Nassar (also spelled Nasser, Naasar or Nazar) is a Tamil actor, producer, writer, director, lyricist, and singer.
He has appeared in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and English films. He is often cited as part of India's specialist character actors, along with the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Nana Patekar.
Nassar was born on 5 March 1956 as Muhammad Hanif, in an interior village called Naththam, in Chengalpattu district, Tamilnadu. He studied in St. Joseph's Hr Sec School, Chengalpattu. He sprung from humble beginnings and was an indifferent student making him bid goodbye to his P.U.C. studies, while he was half way through the course. The pull of fine art was something he could not resist. He escaped to Chennai, where he did his B.Sc in Botany at Madras Christian College.
In Christian College, he was the president of the Dramatic Society.
Muhammad Hanif changed his name to Nasser after his idol- the Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser. He became Muhammad Abdul Nasser and changed his name officially in 1976.
Despite rumours that Nasser has served in the Indian Air Force- Nasser did not qualify in the physical. Nasser then tried out for the post of a Sub Inspector- and was selected for the Interview, however he backed out to concentrate on his acting career.
Despite his experience in Acting in School where he was a popular actor in P.U.C, and his experience as President of the Dramatic Society in Christian College- he failed to get a proper acting role in any movie.
He worked during this time as a tailors apprentice, salesman and waiter to supplement his meagre income. He also acted in some dramas to earn a small and meagre living. During this time he visited every studio and every single director for a chance.
His first movie was Etho Oru Oorula where he played the role of the wicked cousin of the hero Chandrashekar. He began to slowly appear in a number of films mostly in negative roles- in the early and middle 80's. These included Rajnikanth remakes of Amitabh Bachchan Movies.
Though until the early 90's Nasser played only negative roles, he matured to supporting roles and comedy roles (villanous comedy) later and today is better known for his supporting roles.
His villanious roles include those in films like - Apoorva Sagodharargal, Kuruthi Punal, Padayappa, Thennavan, Thevar Magan.
In addition to that- his most famous supporting roles have been in films like Dhill, Kadhalar Dhinam, Roja, Jeans etc.
His comedic roles include films like Avvai Shanmughi while his villanous comedic roles include films like Poi Solla Porom and Quick Gun Murugun (as Rice Plate Reddy).
As a director
Tamilnadu Government Awards
Best Actor award for his role in the film Aavaaram Poo
Best Villain award for his role in the film Thamizh
Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the film Em Magan
Andhra Pradesh Government - Nandi Awards
Best Villain award for his role in the film Chanti
The Tamilnadu Government has conferred on him the title Kalaimamani
The South Indian Actors Association has conferred on him the title Kalaichelvan