Pankaj Kapur is an Indian theatre, television and film actor from Ludhiana, Punjab, India. He has appeared in several television serials and films. His most acclaimed film roles till date have been that of Dr. Dipankar Roy in Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1991) and 'Abba ji' in Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool (2003), both of which got him National Film Awards. In the 1980s and 1990's he became a household name through his TV series like, Karamchand, a surprisingly popular, comedy television series in the detective genre and most recently in Office Office, a comic satire on prevalent corruption.
Pankaj Kapoor first studied engineering in New Delhi, and completed the course in 1973, topping his college. Thereafter, he joined National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi and later graduated in 1976, here again he bagged the 'Best Actor Award'. After graduating from National School of Drama, he did theatre for next four years, till he was offered Gandhi by Richard Attenborough. Over the years, as a director, he has done over 74 plays and serials, including Mohandas B.A.L.L.B, Wah Bhai Wah, Sahabji Biwiji Ghulamji and Drishtanth, Kanak Di Balli, Albert's Bridge and Panchvan Savaar. He made his film debut with Shyam Benegal's film Arohan (1982). Following that he played the role of Mahatma Gandhi's second secretary Pyarelal, in Richard Attenbrough film Gandhi in 1982. Later he also dubbed for Ben Kingsley in the Hindi version of the film. Thereafter he appeared in a string of powerful art films that came under the Parallel Cinema category, with leading art films directors, starting with Shyam Benegal's Mandi (1983), Kundan Shah's comedy classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro again in 1983, this was followed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza satirical Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (1984), Mrinal Sen's hauntingly poignant Khandhar (1984), and Vidhu Vinod Chopra's suspense thriller Khamosh in 1985. This was the time when the parallel cinema in India was in its full bloom, and he made himself a favourite of most of them, over the next decade, he appeared in many art films, many of which went on to win National Film Awards as well. In 1986, he switched to television, with his memorable role of 'Karamchand Jasoos' in detective-comedy, Karamchand, also starring Shushmita Mukherjee. The serial got him instant nation-wide popularity. Over the years he has been seen in numerous TV serials, including, 'Kab Tak Pukaroon' (Doordarshan) 'Zabaan Sambhaal' Ke, a remake of English TV series, Mind Your Language; 'Lifeline' with Vijaya Mehta, 'Neem ka Ped' which displayed his finest acting prowess on television, and finally comic interludes in 'Philips Top 10' made him once again, a favourite of the masses. Meanwhile his tryst with art cinema continued, as he starred in classics like, Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986), Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986), and Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin (1987). In 1987, his comic-side was visible again in the commercial action film Jalwa, also starring Naseeruddin Shah. His first National Film Award came with 1989 film, Rakh, which also starred Aamir Khan, in a breakthrough performance himself. He also featured in the 1992 critically acclaimed Mani Ratnam film 'Roja directed by Mani Ratnam. The movie was made in Tamil and later dubbed in Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Malayalam. He also worked in few Punjabi movies as well. One of known is Mari da deeva. His strongest performance in the early part of his career came from his lead role of struggling scientist in the film Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1991), for which he was awarded the 1991 National Film Award - Special Jury Award. In 2000 he returned to television with serial "Office Office". In 2003 he delivered a stunning performance in critically acclaimed Maqbool, a Vishal Bhardwaj's adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Maqbool also got him the 2004 National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. Meanwhile, his run for excellence in acting continues with films like Blue Umbrella (2005), Dus (2005) and Halla Bol (2007). At present he is seen on the TV series, Naya Office Office, a sequel to his previous hit series Office Office. He also starred in the classic Punjabi film Marhi Da Diva (1989).
Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor is Pankaj's son by his first wife Neelima Azeem. In 1984 Pankaj married Supriya Pathak, and they have a son and a daughter.