It is set in the fictional village of Bilaspur, Bihar in 1996. The movie starts with the grisly portrayal of a mob killing of two defenceless women, orchestrated by vested interests, and how village power players later evade administrative inquiries into this atrocity. This incident sets the tone for much of the rest of the movie.
The central characters are a young couple, Vinay (Ayub Khan) and Ketki (Madhuri Dixit). They are quickly plunged into the midst of machinations by several powerful and unscrupulous villagers. Foremost among them is contractor Tirpat Singh (Mohan Joshi), a powerful, corrupt and ruthless man who oppresses poor people and especially women with impunity. Vinay too becomes influenced by Tirpat, and under this influence spirals down a dark road of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and selfishness that alienates his loving wife and tears apart the whole family, despite her best efforts to fight this.
The rest of the movie deals with their efforts to break out of this morass, both within their relationship as well as outside of it, and Vinay's and especially Ketki's long, hard, and bloody struggle to confront and defeat the forces of oppression and male domination in the village.