Sanjeev Bhaskar was born in Ealing, West London, and lived as a child above his parents' launderette in Hounslow, Middlesex.
Originally from Gujranwala, now in Pakistan, his parents lived under British rule until 1947, when they were forced out, losing everything. They went to live in India as refugees, but never felt at home, so they moved to England in 1956.
Born in 1963, Sanjeev experienced racism from a young age. He recalls that the white kids called him "a Paki," while his Indian friends didn't want him to talk to the white kids. There were also riots in the streets.
In his twenties, Sanjeev studied marketing at Hatfield Polytechnic, then got a job in the field, but ended up suing his employer for breach of contract. Although the suit was eventually settled out of court, he had a two-year period in which he was unable to get a job and had to live with his parents.
During that time, he was inspired to write and perform comedy sketches with his friend Nitin Sawhney. They called themselves The Secret Asians. Their show Poppadom Preach met with acclaim, leading to an invitation to join the BBC Radio 4 sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me in 1996, which later transferred to BBC2.
Goodness Gracious Me also starred Meera Syal. Sanjeev and Meera went on to co-star on the BBC comedy series The Kumars at No. 42 , which ran from 2001 to 2006. They were married in 2005.
Sanjeev made his motion picture debut playing "Loud Man in Restaurant" in Notting Hill (1999), starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. He went on to play roles in Universal Pictures' The Guru (2002), Woody Allen's Scoop (2006) starring Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman, London Boulevard (2010) starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley, Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem (2013) and Terry Jones' Absolutely Anything (2015) alongside Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale.
More recently, he played lead character Jack Malik's (played by Himesh Patel) father in the hit musical movie, Yesterday (2019). Ironically, Sanjeev, who's a big fan of The Beatles, had to pretend he didn't know their music (or especially appreciate it) in the film.
He's also achieved TV stardom, playing Detective Inspector Sunil "Sunny" Khan on ITV's popular crime series, Unforgotten, which has enjoyed three seasons and is still in production.
Sanjeev received the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2006 from the Queen for his services to drama.
He and his wife Meera have a son Shaan, born December 2, 2005.