Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Seth, Roshan (1942-)


Main image of Seth, Roshan (1942-)

After completing a degree in New Delhi, Roshan Seth moved to England, where he studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. His first break was in Peter Brook's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which toured the US in 1972. Despite making his feature film debut in Richard Lester's Juggernaut (1974), Seth became discouraged by the lack of roles available in classical/mainstream productions for minority actors. He abandoned acting and returned to India to pursue a career as an editor and journalist until the early 1980s.

It was the 1982 Academy Award winning film, Gandhi (d. Richard Attenborough) that coaxed Seth back into acting and boosted his international profile. He was subsequently cast as bad guy Chatter Lal, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (US, d. Steven Spielberg, 1984).

Returning to England for a small part in David Lean's A Passage to India (1984), Seth was cast for the role of socialist immigrant journalist, Papa (Omar's father) in director Stephen Frears and writer Hanif Kureishi's My Beautiful Laundrette. Six years later, he co-starred in Kureishi's directorial feature debut, London Kills Me (1991) and also played the part of Karim's father, Haroon, in the four-part television serial The Buddha of Suburbia (BBC, 1993), based on Kureishi's award winning novel.

In the Canadian/British production Such a Long Journey (d. Sturla Gunnarsson, 1998), Seth played a Parsee bank teller in an India on the brink of its third war against Pakistan in 1971, a performance that earned him the greatest acclaim to date. When he won the coveted Genie Award (Canadian Oscar) for Best Actor, many critics believed that the film even surpassed the strengths of the original award-winning novel by Rohinton Mistry. Journey was also the first film since Indiana Jones in which Seth played alongside Om Puri.

Shalini Chanda

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Gandhi (1982)Gandhi (1982)

Large-scale Oscar-winning biopic of the great Indian spiritual leader

Thumbnail image of My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Surprise box-office hit about a gay Pakistani/National Front romance

Thumbnail image of Buddha of Suburbia, The (1993)Buddha of Suburbia, The (1993)

Hanif Kureishi's ambitious Anglo-Asian rights-of-passage drama

Related collections

Related people and organisations