Mini (Shabana Azmi) is a bright village girl with academic ambitions and an appetite for literature and philosophy. Her intellectual uncle (Utpal Dutt) indulges her brainy bent, encouraging her studies and running interference between Mini and her mother (Sudha Shivpuri), a pious widow whose only concern is to see Mini married, and quickly. Mini has a nascent love affair with her neighbor Narendra (Vikram), the zamindar's son, a student in Calcutta who on his frequent visits brings her Victorian literature, listens raptly to her discourse, and is bold enough to kiss her opportunistically when they are caught together in a rainstorm. Circumstances conspire against Mini and Narendra, though, and soon Mini finds herself married against her wishes to a wheat trader Ganshyam (Girish Karnad) from a neighboring village. Plunged into despair, Mini struggles to become accustomed to life in her unwanted marriage and her new home, where Ganshyam's stepmother seems to favor Mini's sisters-in-law and where her new husband treats her with a patience that she finds perplexing.