The story is set in early 20th century India (specifically, 1907) in the estate of the rich Bengali noble Nikhilesh (Victor Banerjee) and in the chaotic aftermath of Lord Curzon’s partition of Bengal into Muslim and Hindu states; the nationalist movement is trying to impose a boycott against all foreign goods (by claiming that imports are at the root of Indian poverty). He lives happily with his beautiful wife Bimala (Swatilekha Sengupta) until the appearance of his friend and radical revolutionist, Sandip (Soumitra Chatterjee).
Sandip, a passionate and active man, is a contradiction to the peace-loving and somewhat passive Nikhil. He easily attracts the innocent and unsuspecting Bimala, creating a love triangle.
Although Nikhilesh figures out what is happening, he is a mature person and grants Bimala the freedom to grow and choose what she wants in life (as their marriage was arranged when she was a girl). Meanwhile, Bimala experiences the emotions of love for the first time in a manner that helps her understand that it is indeed her husband Nikhilesh who really loves her.
Importantly, Nikhilesh tells Bimala that he would like her to have a life not only inside the home, but outside of it as well—a most controversial matter when the novel was written.