Ratnam was born in the family which was associated with film production industry but despite of his film background, the children of his family were restrained from watching movies. However, in his school time in the Besant Theosophical School, Adyar, Madras his love with movies blossomed. At the early stages of his life, he was fond of like Sivaji Ganesan and Nageshs acting and also became the fan of K. Balachanders direction. His after school education includes graduation in commerce from Madaras University. After completing his graduation he pursued his post graduation from Jam Ala Bajaj Institute of management studies, Mumbai. After completing post graduation he worked as a Management consultant in Madaras.
In early stages of his career, when he was working as a Management Consultant, he remained unsatisfied. He joined hands with his friend Raman and completed his first blocked. To devote his full time, he even left his job and thereafter, joined a film crew. At that time Mani was firm to pursue his passion of film making and he entered the glamour industry with his friends who had common interest as him. Mani worked on a story blockaded in English -Pallavi and Pallavi and this film turned out to be a decent earner at the South Indian box office. However, Government of Karnatka gave Mani his first screenplay award from State in 1983 and this milestone opened the doors of the Kerala film industry for him. He then had the opportunity to direct two more films in this year as 1983-1986, which is considered to be the toughest phase of his life.
With onset of 1986, Mani Ratnam directed Mouna, a romantic drama, which gave him great success in his life as the movie won in the Best Feature Film Category of National Film Awards in Tamil region. He has also been awarded the best director Filmfare Award.