Kundan Shah was born on 19th October, 1947. He completed his diploma in direction from FTII,Pune in 1976 and started as assistant to Saeed Mirza on the film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980), to Robin Dharamraj on the film Chakra (1981) and as a production assistant to Vidhu Vinod Chopra on Sazaye Maut (1980). In 1981, he made a documentary for Films Division of India titled Vision Of The Blind.
Kundan Shah got his first break in Hindi films as the director of the NFDC produced comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983). The movie did not have a great run at the box-office when it released but went on to be rated as one of the greatest comedies ever made in India.The movie won him the National Award for Best Film made by a debut director.
After the success of the debut film, Kundan moved to television and conceived and co-directed the sitcom Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984)which is considered to be a benchmark in television sitcoms in India till date. He formed a company ISKRA with Saeed Mirza and Aziz Mirza to make some of the major TV shows of the time like Nukkad, Manoranjan, Wagle Ki Duniya, Circus and Intezaar in the period between 1985-88.
Kundan returned to films in 1993 with Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993) starring Shah Rukh Khan. The film set in Goa which remains his biggest hit, is rated by Shah Rukh Khan as his personal favourite movie. He then went on to direct a film produced by ABCL titled Loveria (Unreleased) starring Karisma Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan. The movie never got released as ABCL shut shop during this period. After a long hiatus of 7 years, Kundan had two releases in a year, Kya Kehna (2000) and Hum To Mohabbat Karega (2000). The former was the debut film of Preity Zinta and went on to become a surprise hit. In a clear departure from his forte of comedy, Kya Kehna was an emotional tale of an unwed mother which pulled in the female and family audiences. The successful team of Kya Kehna writer Honey Irani and director Kundan Shah got together to make another family drama Dil Hai Tumhara (2001)starring Rekha and Preity Zinta but the film did not see success at the box-office. Success continued to elude him in his next comedy Ek Se Badhkar Ek (2004) starring Sunil Shetty and Raveena Tandon. Kundan then in a complete departure from his style of film-making made the critically acclaimed Teen Bahenein (2005).
Kundan Shah won the Indira Gandhi National Award for Best Film by a debut director for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro in 1984. He also won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Film for Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa in 1994. The award was instituted in that year itself.
Kundan acted in a cameo in Kumar Shahani’s Tarang (1984).