The film is set in two periods — the first in the political milieu of the 1960s when Kerala was brought under the Presidential rule after the dismissal of the first Communist ministry; the second in 1976 during the Emergency, the time of police excesses and political witch-hunting. Due to constant harassment by the local MLA-cum-landlord, Mangamma (Revathi) and her father (Thilakan) are forced to flee their village on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. The landlord's son attempts to rape Mangamma's younger sister but unfortunately they both die in a fire that destroys the hut. Mangamma and her father are offered shelter and a job by Nair (Nedumudi Venu), who runs a tea shop with his adopted son Velayudhan. Nair marries Mangamma after her father's death.
The later part of the film takes place 16 years later. Mangamma and Nair have a 15-year-old son - Sankaran, who just flirts around with Lucy, a girl who helps Mangamma in her popcorn business. When Velayudhan who has worked with her since childhood disappears one day, the shop is thrown into disarray. Velayudhan (M. G. Sasi) is now a rebel, wanted by the police. A rich contractor wants to buy Nair's land, and his refusal brings about a catastrophe. The police harasses Mangamma and Nair. Nair becomes one of the many faceless, nameless victims of the Emergency — he dies in police custody. The tea shop is burnt. Standing up to these trials, Mangamma survives. In the last shot, Velayudhan sits in the tea shop. He is reading a book. He remains in the frame even as Mangamma leaves.
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