Born on 8 September 1939 in the village of Raikot in Ludhiana district of Punjab, Shrimati Neena Tiwana together with her late husband Harpal Tiwana are credited with establishing the professional theatre in Punjab.
Taking her Master’s degree in Punjabi from Mahindra College, Punjab University, Patiala, Shrimati Neena Tiwana joined the National School of Drama, Delhi, in 1965. Trained under Director E. Alkazi, Neena and Harpal went back to establish their theatre group Punjab Kala Manch in Ludhiana. Other than plays by dramatists in Punjabi and other Indian languages, the group has produced a number of classics by Sophocles, Ibsen, and Arthur Miller in Punjabi. It introduced ticketed shows for the first time in Punjab, ensuring financial viability for the theatre. Some of its well-known plays are Chamkaur di Garhi (1967), Hind di Chadar (1975), Mela Munde Kuriyan da (1978), Mard Aurat (1967), Garam Bazar (1979), Nasha Kursi da (1980), Long da Lishkara (1980), and Diva Bale Sari Raat (1976), Shrimati Neena Tiwana played lead roles in all these plays, and in some of the films based on them such as Long da Lishkara and Diva Bale Sari Raat. Founder-Chairperson of the Harpal Tiwana Foundation, she has been honorary Resident Director of the Harpal Tiwana Centre for Performing Arts since 2009. She had been a Lecturer in acting, voice and speech at the Department of Drama, Punjabi University, Patiala, between 1967 and 1973. She held workshops on Indian theatre at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, during the period 1973-74.
Shrimati Neena Tiwana has been honoured for her work in theatre by the Punjab Arts Council, Chandigarh, and Punjabi University, Patiala. She has also been conferred the Indo-Canadian Times Award (1993), and bestowed the Shiromani Adakara title (1998) by the Languages Department, Punjab, and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
Shrimati Neena Tiwana receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribution to Indian theatre as an actress.