By Sarathi Guha(10 May 2008)
The film is set in nineteenth century Bengal where the cruel custom of sati is seen as a means of salvation for the unwanted women folk. The opening scene shows the funeral procession and a young girl jumping into the funeral pyre of her dead husbandwith the villagers celebrating . Uma is a mute orphan in that village living with her old uncle Gangadhar who is a kulin brahman, who has a record of the details of his many wives. The family is worried because Uma apart from being mute,has widowhood indicated in her horoscope. Hence she can't get married off and that in turn is creating problems for for her sisters marriage. Uma does a lot of work but spends most of her time under the banyan tree in whose trunk she hides her little treasure. She takes beatings ,often unfair, without reacting but sometimes her anger bursts out and she hits back. Nabin, a school teacher a family friend and Bachaspaty ,the village priest tell Gangadhar to get Uma married to the tree to settle matters. They claim it to in be in sync with Hindu scriptures when Gangadharan refuses. Uma uma is married to her banyan tree ,and the mute tree becomes her true companions to whom she communicates her joy and pain. However Nabin takes advantage of her one night and she becomes pregnant. This being a great embaresment to her family, her aunt and sister-in-law obtain medecine from a witch doctor which would bring about an abortion. They also bar her out of the house and the kitchen according to the quack's instructions. Uma in pain from the medicine accepts all strictures with a shocked resignation. One stormy night,when the cow shed ,her shelter,breaks down ,she takes refuge in her tree. The next morning,the tree is found to be struck down by lightning and Uma killed,blood on her forhead like vermillion.