Personal detailsName: Ben Kingsley
Born: 31 December 1943 (Age: 71)
Where: Snainton, England
Height: 5' 8"
Awards: Won 1 Oscar, 2 BAFTAs, 2 Golden Globes
All about this star
It's said that success tastes sweeter the longer you have to wait for it. For Ben Kingsley, approaching his 40th birthday after 17 years in theatre, the Academy Award and worldwide fame brought by his outstanding performance as Gandhi must have been like drowning in nectar. And he clearly grew hungry for the flavour as he went on to be Oscar-nominated three more times. This doyen of the Royal Shakespeare Company had matched his thespian peers Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen and Michael Gambon and become one of the most celebrated screen actors of his generation.
He was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji on the last day of December, 1943, in Snainton, Yorkshire. It was a peaceful little village, mid-way between Scarborough and Pickering, at the southern foot of the north Yorkshire moors. Soon after Krishna's birth, Snainton would become renowned for its train station and rail-yards, through which would pass bricks and timber for the rebuilding of the North after Hitler's blitzkrieg. Incongruously, under the station's canopy, mounted on a bracket, would be the skull of a hippopotamus, used as a nest-box by local birds. Rather less charmingly, once a week the station would also handle barrels of excrement from the nearby kennels, the poop being transported to Leeds for use in the tanneries there.
It was all a long way removed from the Bhanjis' roots, the family having owned plantations in the north-western Indian state of Gujarat. Beyond this, Krishna's paternal grandfather, shipwrecked at the age of 12 off Zanzibar, had been adopted by a spice-grower on the island and rose to a mighty status within the spice industry, becoming known as The Clove King. Krishna's father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, had been born and raised in Kenya and educated in England at Dulwich College, south London. Training in medicine, he would eventually become a GP and would marry Anna Lyna Mary, an English model and actress of Russian and Jewish extraction.
Had the Bhanjis remained in Snainton it's more than likely that young Krishna would never have enjoyed the career he has. Fortunately for him (in some ways) the family would relocate to Pendleton, part of Salford borough on the western side of Greater Manchester. They'd live at Number 119, Station Road where Rahimdulla would conduct his surgery (it's now a local authority nursing home). Interestingly, up until 1948 the famed northern artist LS Lowry had lived at Number 117, right next door. Ben Kingsley still returns often to Pendleton, holding workshops in the Ben Kingsley Theatre there.
An ambition to act would come to Krishna early.