A circular story, told in flashback, in which eternal repetition is only interrupted by death in the form of a relentlessly linear railway engine. The film opens at a railway crossing where a man is about to kill his wife when the narrative spins into the past via a song. The central story is of the unhappy love affair between Kasturi, the Harijan (Untouchable) daughter of the railway level-crossing guard Dukhia, and Pratap, the Brahmin son of the grocer Mohan. At first, rumor and mob violence are deployed to lethal effect in order to maintain a 'traditional', oppressive morality. Later, when the main protagonists are about to conform and marry selected partners, rumor and maliciousness again intervene to trigger renewed violence until the on-rushing train of fate stops the strife.