Born on 10th November 1951 in Khordha, Odisha, he joined the film and Television Institute of India, Poona. After completing his studies in FII, he made his first feature film, “Seeta Raati” in 1976, which could not be completed till 1980, due to financial problems. This film won the ‘Rajat Kamal’ in the National Film Awards in 1982, it also happens to be the first Odia film to be selected for the prestigious ‘Indian Panorama’ section of the International Film Festival of India, New Delhi.
He has directed twelve feature films, out of which eleven are in Odia language. He has been considered by critics to be a pioneer in the ‘New Wave’ movement of Odia cinema, single mindely persuing his effort for good cinema. His films have survived the ‘ravages of consumerism’ devouring Odia cinema for the last three decades. He has also directed telefilms, teleserials and documentaries. His films have won nine (9) National Awards and also many major State Film Awards. It may be mentioned that one of his films has won the first technical National award (Best Cinematography [B/W]) in he context of Odia Cinema. Some of his film have been screened in the ‘Indian Panorama’ section of the IFFI in the respective years as well as being shown abroad in festivals at USA, Italy and Germany.
Most of is films explore the socio-economic realities of the characters in his films are realist in nature, the mainstay being human relationship and above all the ambience of the milieu which he portrays with great effect, as the noted film critic John Hood mentions in his book ‘The Essential Mystery’- (Manmohan) Mahapatra is a master of atmospherics. The frankness and intimacy of his photography so well engender the exquisite naturalism of his films, and carefully crafted visual experience……. enhancing the visual with folk or classical music,
Natural sounds or the powerful effects of silence’, he further writes, the most
notable aspects of Manmohan Mahapatra’s genius as a film maker is his skill in translating to the screen so much of the actuality of the oriya village, on translation that entails not only faithfully physical re-creation but also an extraordinarily sensitive awareness of mood and atmosphere….1 To my mind, the
most notable among his works are, “Seeta Raati”, “Neeraba Jhada”, “Klanta Aparanha” among others. Another important aspect of his works are that it is not only acclaim awards, but his relentless effort in continuing to work for the cause of meaningful and significant films in the realm of Odia cinema. Rightly he has been conferred with the “Jayadev Award”, the highest state honour in films for one’s contribution to Odia cinema.