Mumtaz is a village girl whose family is killed in communal riots. She moves to Mumbai with her uncle, the only family member she has left. They are desperately poor and her uncle persuades her to become a bar girl at Chandni Bar. This is merely temporary, he promises, until he gets a job. Mumtaz is a shy girl who loathes the work, but she forces herself to dance and flirt. However, the uncle doesn't keep his promise; he lives on her earnings, drinking them away, and never gets a job. He adds one final, unforgivable crime to the list when he gets drunk and rapes her. By this time she has caught the eye of a gangster called Potiya Sawant. When she tells Potiya what her uncle did to her, Potiya decides to "defend her honor." Potiya shoots the uncle. Mumtaz, bereft of any male protection in the dangerous slums, marries Potiya. She is determined to make the best of things. She leaves the bar and stays home to raise her two children, whom she carefully protects from the world of prostitution and gangs. However, her world unravels again when Potiya is killed. She has to return to the bar to support her children. In the end, she cannot protect them from their sordid surroundings. Her son becomes a killer, her daughter becomes a bar dancer in her turn, and Mumtaz turns to prostitution in a tragic attempt to save her son.