He started his career as a producer in All India Radio, Bombay and during his tenure, he wrote songs for Hindi and Urdu films and became an imperative part of the Indian People’s Theatre Association and the Progressive Writers’ Association.
Tanvir penned various plays and his first accomplishment was Agra Bazar in 1954, based on the work of Nazir Akbarabadi, an Urdu Poet and for this play he endeavored to bring urban artists together with folk performers on stage. He took professional training in acting and direction from England and he founded Naya Theatre dedicated to folk performance in 1959.
He explored various restricted fields in plays like switching to Chhattisgarhi dialect from Hindi, adopting local singing styles, incorporating folk songs. His famous creations consist of Charandas Chor, Zahareeli Hawa, Kamdeo ka Apna Basant Ritu ka Sapna and Gaon ka Naam Sasural. Besides theatre, he acted in movies, notably Gandhi, Black, and White and was also a Member of Parliament (1972-78).
Habib Tanvir and his plays were honored with a number of awards which includes, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Kalidas Samman, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan in 2002. Tanvir married to Moneeka Mishra and had two children.