In India he was known for his performances in classics like The Chess Players, Masoom, Henna and Dil, and he played significant parts in colonial dramas including The Jewel in the Crown, Gandhi, The Far Pavilions, Tandoori Nights, My Beautiful Laundrette and ITVs soap Coronation Street. He then met and fell madly in love with actress Madhur Bahadur and persuaded her to marry him and they settled in New York where Jaffrey studied at the Actor’s Studio
Son of a doctor, Punjab born Jaffrey was always fascinated with acting. After university he joined All India Radio before setting up his own English language theatre group in Delhi to perform works by Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Dylan Thomas.
Known for being a womanizer, the couple’s relationship ended when he had an affair with a dancer. In his words “Our marriage was like a fragile house of cards, with the first strong wind it collapsed.”
Jaffrey’s wife left him and took their three children with her. She kept his name however and Madhur Jaffrey went on to become a celebrated food writer and broadcaster. After the divorce Saeed moved to England where he worked as a sales assistant at Harrods in London to supplement his work at the BBC’s World Service.
Much later Jaffrey starred in his first major Indian film The Chess Players, that also featured Richard Attenborough. He won a prize at India’s Filmfare Awards for his performance in the film, that led to him starring in other hit films.
There was no stopping Jaffrey now. He went on to appear in several films, TV dramas, in India and Britain.
He remarried his agent Jennifer in 1980 and became the first Asian actor to receive an OBE for services to drama.