Mahesh Manjrekar was born in a middle class Maharashtrian family in Mumbai.
Mahesh started his acting career in 1984 with the Marathi play Aflatoon. The success of this play made him turn producer and the result was land mark Marathi plays like All The Best, Doctor Tumhisuddha and Dhyanimani. After the initial success in theatre, he embarked to direct the Marathi film Aai (1995) which won him the Filmfare Award for Best Director.
The turning point in Mahesh’s life occurred when he was making the Marathi film tackling the issue of Aids, Nidaan (2000) which had Sunjay Dutt in a guest appearance. Mahesh narrated the script of Vaastav (1999) to Sanjay on the sets of Nidaan which released an year after Vaastav. Vaastav gave Sunjay Dutt his first Best Actor Filmfare award and Screen Award and made Mahesh one of the most sought after writer-director in Hindi cinema.
To prove that his success was no flash in the pan Mahesh went on to write and direct Astitva (2000)with Tabu in an award winning role. But after that, success eluded the director in Mahesh though he made acclaimed movies like Kurukshetra (2000)and Viruddh… Family Comes First (2005) with Amitabh Bachchan. He experimented with genres – comedy in Jis Des Mein Ganga Rehta Hai (2000), kids in Vaah Life Ho To Aisi (2005) and thriller with Rakht (2004) but with no success. Mahesh’s versatility took him to various fields in cinema – a producer in Pran Jaaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye (2003) and It Was Raining That Night (2005) , the English version of Astitva with Sushmita Sen in lead role; an editor in Struggler (Under production) and playback singer in Kaante (2002). But a second lease of success came in the form of his acting career with acclaimed performances like Kaante (2002), Musafir (2004) and Zinda (2006).
Mahesh is currently acting in an English play Double Deal with Sandhya Mridul which is running to packed theatres. The play is an authorised adaptation of Killing Time by Richard Stockwell done by Anil Deshmukh. Mahesh has just completed a single character film titles Struggler which awaits release. He is acting in Wanted (2008) with Salman Khan and Ayesha Takia. He is planning his next film which is a biopic on the life and times of the gangster Haji Mastan.
Mahesh’s hard-hitting scripts and direction won him the Silver Lotus National Award for Best Film for Nidaan. He also won the Screen Award for Best Story and Jury Award for Best Director for Astitva.
Mahesh’s son Satya has acted in the film Vaah Life Ho To Aisi.
In 2006, Mahesh participated in a reality dance show on Sony Entertainment Network titled Jhalak Dikhlaja (Indian version of Dancing With The Stars). Mahesh stunned everyone by his dance with choreographer Sonia Jaffer.