Shaad is the son of fashion designer, filmmaker, who has the 1981 musical drama Umrao Jaan to his credit, and Kotwara royalty Muzaffar Ali and his wife Subhashini Sehgal, a well-known activist and former MP of the Communist Party Marxist. He completed his schooling from Welham Boys’ School and The Lawrence School.
Ali was married to his childhood sweetheart and the Lucknow’s eminent personality Begum Hamida Habibullah’s granddaughter Shazmeen Hussain in 2006. Although the two knew each other for a very long time, their marriage didn’t last more than eight months, with Shazmeen leaving the house after constant fights with Shaad. Following his unsuccessful marriage, Shaad became involved with Adlabs Films Ltd.’s owner Manmohan Shetty’s daughter, Pooja Shetty. Having courted her for a few months, Shaad split with her as well. Next, he began dating Aarti Patkar, a stylist by profession, whom he married in 2013 in a lavish ceremony.
After completing his studies, Shaad assisted renowned film director Mani Ratnam on his 1998 romantic war drama Dil Se.., which starred Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala in pivotal role. Assisting Ratnam on the film, proved to be a turning point in the budding director’s career. In 2002, Shaad directed the Hindi remake of Ratnam’s Tamil romantic drama Alaipayuthey, titled Saathiya and starring Vivek Oberoi and Rani Mukerji in lead roles. The movie was, both, a commercial as well as a critical success, with it movie six Filmfare awards.
Following the success of his directorial debut, Shaad Ali directed the crime-comedy Bunty Aur Babli in 2005, which saw real-life father and son Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan sharing the screen for the first time, and also starred Rani Mukerji. Yet again, the movie became a critical and commercial hit with it winning various awards and accolades. In 2007, he directed the musical comedy-drama Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, starring Abhishek Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta, and Bobby Deol. Although the movie opened to mixed reviews, it was a commercial success.
He reunited with Mani Ratnam by assisting him on movies like Guru (2007), which starred Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai in lead roles, in the bilingual movie Raavana in Tamil and Raavan in Hindi. Both the movies were shot simultaneously in both the languages, however, the cast is different. While Aishwarya is the lead actress in both the movies, Abhishek Bachchan is seen playing the titular role in Raavan while Vikram plays the lead role in its Tamil version. Although the story and plot remains the same, Raavana received more praise than Raavan, which opened to negative reviews.
In 2014, Shaad cast Ranveer Singh, Govinda, Parineeti Chopra, and Ali Zafar in the action crime-drama Kill Dil, which opened to negative reviews and was panned by the critics. Three years after this, in 2017, he directed the Hindi remake of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil romantic drama OK Kanmani titled OK Jaanu, starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor in lead roles.