Born on 24 October 1942 in Lahore, Shrimati Rani Balbir Kaur completed her graduation in Arts from Chandigarh in 1963. She obtained her postgraduation in Hindustani music from Panjab University, Chandigarh with distinction. Later, she obtained a postgraduate professional diploma in Indian Theatre, and was awarded the PhD degree for her thesis on The Nature and Dramatic Function of Music in Traditional Indian Theatre with Special Reference to Raslila in 1982. She received training in classical music from Panna Lal Madan, who was a disciple of Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. She retired as Professor/Chairperson, Department of Indian Theatre, Panjab University, Chandigarh in 2004, after serving for 30 years. Rani Balbir Kaur has also been a Chairperson, Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi, and has been a member of many other prominent institutions such as North Zone Cultural Centre.
Shrimati Rani Balbir Kaur was mentored by eminent personalities of Indian theatre and Hindustani music in her formative years between 1965 to 1974. She belongs to the Vishnu Digambar parampara of the Gwalior gharana and is fully conversant with traditional performing and singing forms of Punjab such as Bhand Mirasis, Naqal, Dhadis, Sufi, Gatka players, Jogis, Jungams, Bazigars, Mirza, Bhangra, Giddha, etc. During her active theatre career spanning over four decades, she has acted in numerous plays, a number of which were directed by renowned directors such as Balwant Gargi (Antigone, Mirza Sahiban, Bhagwadajjukiam), Amal Allana (Hayavadan, Three Penny Opera), Mohan Maharishi (Rani Jindan), Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry (Mahiya Mera Thanedar), Manohar Singh (Pagla Ghora), Srilata Swaminathan (Medea), B.V. Karanth (Kanak di Balli), Sheila Bhatia (Chan Badlan Da), and Joy Michael (Roop Basant). Apart from acting, she has directed a number of plays and has travelled far and wide in connection with her performances and presentations. She has also published a book Music: the Soul of Drama.
For her contribution to Indian theatre, she has been felicitated by many institutions including the World Punjabi Conference; the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi; and IPTA Raipur.
Shrimati Rani Balbir Kaur receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribution to Indian theatre.