Set in 17th century Dehu, Maharashtra, Tukaram - a farmer and grocer - loses interest in the material world after losing his first wife and child in a famine. He neglects his worldly duties to his second wife Jijai (Awali) and their two children. The Brahmin Salomalo is jealous of the religious following and popularity of the shudra (a caste lower than the Brahmin) saint.
He claims that Tukaram stole his verses, and questions a shudra's right to examine the Hindu scriptures, Vedas, a right reserved for Brahmins (priest caste). Pandit Rameshwar Shastri, a learned Brahmin scholar and religious authority, is invited by Salomalo to examine his claims, which he backs by fabricating evidence. Shastri orders that Tukaram immerse his works into the river and never discuss religion in public. Tukaram complies and sits on a fast on the river bank with his family for thirteen days, when God returns him his works. Shastri falls seriously sick, which he interprets as divine retribution and becomes Tukaram's devotee. Salomalo then approaches the reigning king Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire.
When Shivaji tests Tukaram by offering material gifts, the saint refuses and in turn, Shivaji becomes a disciple too. Salomalo then informs the Mughals, Shivaji's enemies that the king was in town, but God protects Shivaji at behest of Tukaram, when the Mughals come to Dehu. His saintliness brought hordes of people from different regions of the state offering worship at his feet and also offering him huge gifts which could enrich him but he refuses to accept any kind of rewards. When Tukaram's work is done on earth, God comes to take him to heaven. Tukaram asks his wife to join, but she refuses as she has to look after the children.
The film also depicts various miracles of Tukaram like God visiting him, an army being created from Vithoba's image, showering of grains from the sky, curing a sick boy, retrieving his works from the river which was intentionally thrown there, and in the end, going to the heaven in a celestial chariot.
Did you know?
This path-breaking movie became one of the first Indian movies to receive international recognition and acclaim when it won at the 5th International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art in Venice, and was voted amongst the Top Three films of the world that year. Read More