Nirad N Mohapatra was born in Orissa, an Eastern state of India. He was the eldest of 7 siblings. His father was a freedom fighter (in pre-independence India), journalist and later entered politics in independent India. His mother was a teacher in school. The foundation to Nirad’s value system was laid with this background. He was also exposed to rural and urban life while growing up. All this made him very aware of the realities of middle class life. He was good in his studies with a keen interest in history and literature. His interest in cinema was kindled from his childhood days and further strengthened by the cinema theater very near his house in Bhadrak, Orissa. He was a good observer of human nature and relationship and strived to understand the same. In years to come, his film and body of work would reflect the same sensitivity.
Nirad continued his studies and completed B.A (Hons) with distinction (1967). He enrolled for Post-Graduate studies in Political Science (Utkal University), but discontinued it to pursue his love for cinema. Joined Film and Television Institute of India, Pune (FTII) Direction Course, 1968. He was admired for a keen understanding of the theory of cinema. In 1971, he passed out with a first class diploma in film direction. In 1972-1974 joined faculty of film direction FTII as a lecturer. Many noted and acclaimed directors of India namely Girish Kasaravalli, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Janhu Barua etc were his students during those times.
From 1974-1983 he founded and successfully ran a film society at Bhubaneswar, Orissa called Cinexstasy. This was with the aim of popularizing good cinema and an opportunity for the members to see classics of world cinema with analysis by professionals. This was hugely popular and garnered lot of response from people interested in seeing good cinema from all around the world. Nirad was pivotal in many people from Orissa being inspired to take up a career in Ciname and who went on to join FTII, Pune.
During this time he edited the film section of a film cum literature journal “Manaphasal”, continued to teach at FTII as a guest lecturer, contributed to several National journals as a freelancer, made a number of documentary films and conducted film appreciation course at Utkal University. It was a coincidence that his future wife was a participant in one of this film appreciation course and the film society Cinexstasy. And before you jump into conclusion, his was an arranged marriage to Sabita Mohanty in 1978. That she too loved cinema was another good thing.
In 1984, Nirad made “Maya Miriga”. His first feature film. The film was made with a shoe string budget. It was also made with an ensemble of primarily amateur actors. The film was shot completely in Puri, a beachside town in Orissa. The film dealt with the ever potent issue of those times (it’s still relevant today) – the joint family, aspirations of people and it’s breaking up. This directorial debut went on to bag a lot of honor and accolade. It was adjudged as the second best National film in 1984 Indian panorama. It was adjudged The Best Third World Film at Mannheim (then West Germany). It got the Special jury award at Hawaii, US. It was selected for Cannes (France), London, Locarno, Los Angeles and other international film festivals. In 1985 he was invited to visit four US universities to lecture on films.
After that he primarily concentrated on documentaries (see filmography). He has been a member of national film jury and member selection panel for Indian Panorama. He has been a jury member for 5th International Children’s film festival, Bhubaneswar. Has been a member of governing council, Film and TV Institute, Pune. He has been a member, NFDC script committee for Orissa. He is an active member, Academic Council, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. He is the chairman, academic council, Biju Patnaik Film and Television Institute, Cuttack, Orissa and member, governing council, SIET, Bhubaneswar.
Currently he spends his time reading and in various capacities as member to the various organizations involved with film and television studies. He is constantly on the lookout for spreading good cinema among the common people and is often the mainstay of various film festivals held in Orissa.
|1974-75||“Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa” (Cultural Documentary, 35mm, B&W, English). Worked as Director, purchased by Films Division, Mumbai. 3 programmes for SITE, Cuttack Base Production Centre as outside producer.|
|1976||“The Story of Cement” (Industrial Documentary, 16mm, Colour, English).|
|1983||“Maya Miriga” (Feature, 110 Minutes, Colour, Oriya) Worked as Director Screened at Cannes, London, and Los Angeles Film Festival. Best Third World Film (Mannhein, Germany). Special Jury Commendation Award (Hawaii, U.S). Second Best National Feature Film 1984. Best Director, Orissa State Award 1985.|
|1985||“Chhau Dance of Mayurbhanja” (Cultural Documentary, 35mm, Colour, English). Worked as Producer & Director for Films Division, Mumbai.|
|1986||“Pata Painting” (Cultural Documentary, 16mm, Colour, English). Worked as producer & Director for Films Division, Mumbai.|
|1988||“Tamasa Tire” (Tele-Film, 16mm, Colour, Oriya). As producer for Doordarshan, Cuttack.|
|1989||“The Vanishing Frontier” (Ecological Documentary, 16mm, Colour, English). As Producer and Director for INTACH, New Delhi.|
|1990||“A New Horizon” (Documentary on Polio, 16mm, Colour, Hindi & English). As Producer and Director for NIRTAR, Olatpur.|
|1991||“Aparajita” (Women empowerment documentary, 16mm, Colour, Oriya). As Producer and Director for UNICEF.|
|1994||“Ama Gaon Halchal” (Eight part educational Video serial). As producer only for The National Literacy Mission, New Delhi.|
|1995||“Maestros of Odissi” (Cultural Documentary in 35mm, Colour, Sanskrit) As producer & Director for Odissi Research Center through I&PR department.|
|1996||“A Ray of Hope” (Documentary, Video, English). As Producer and Director for the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment, New Delhi.|
|1997||“Patriotic Songs, Literature and Mass Media” (6 episodes in Video). Specially commissioned for celebration of 50 years of Independence by Doordarshan, Bhubaneswar.|
|1999||“Joyful Learning” (Educational documentary in Video). As Producer and Director for D.P.E.P, Government of Orissa.|
|2001||“Chilika - A fragile Eco-System” (Ecological documentary in Beta, English). As producer and Director for P.S.B.T in collaboration with Doordarshan, New Delhi.|
|2002||“T.B. – A curable killer” (Documentary on health in Beta, English) As producer and director for DANTB, Orissa|
|2003||Doordarshan serial on “Kana Mamu” (Six Episodes) by Kanta Kabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra and one episode on “Tadpa” by Dr. Gopinath Mohanty|
|2005||“Jasoda” a 3 part serial on child adoption sponsored by Women and Child Development Department, Govt of Orissa.|