Shankar made a humble start to his career by getting employed at railway workshop in Mysore and rose to become a famous film actor and producer. He was first introduced to the industry by veteran film producer, Hunsur Krishnamurthy through the film Rathnamanjari, which was released in 1962. With his performance in the song “Kuladalli Keelyavud”, and his role as Veerabahu in Satya Harishchandra, M.P. Shankar got the tremendous adulation of the audience. In a career spanning 3 decades he worked in over 100 films, but it was his performance in Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu, directed by Siddalingaiah, which helped him garner name and fame.
Shankar engraved a mark in the hearts of people with his roles in films like Naagarahaavu, Mayura, Bhoolokadalli Yamaraja, Mayor Muthanna, Doorada Betta, Giddu Daada, Devara Makkalu, and Veera Sankalpa. He also tried his hands at direction with the film titled Kallara Kalla, besides producing films. In his bid to produce films on wildlife, Shankar took huge financial risks and was left bankrupt.
He died on 17 July 2008 after an extended sickness at his residence in Mysore city.