Of Indian descent with a Hindu background, but attended a Catholic secondary school.
Began acting at age 12; took tap-dancing lessons unwillingly at first, but it was his tap instructor who recommended him to a children's talent agency in Manchester.
Studied at Manchester's Laine-Johnson Theatre School.
First TV role was a 1997 episode of the British children's series Out of Sight; appeared in the soap opera EastEnders in 2001.
Won a Breakthrough On Screen Award from Britain's Royal Television Society for the 2006 docudrama The Bradford Riots.
Extensive British theater credits include the National Theatre production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys in 2004; reprised his role on Broadway and on the Tony-winning drama's world tour, as well as in the 2006 film adaptation.