Primitivist melodrama set prior to 1829 when sati (a woman’s religiously enforced immolation on her husband’s funeral pyre) was made illegal by the British. Uma (Azmi), a mute and orphaned young Brahmin woman, is saddled with an ominous horoscope and is given in marriage to a tree. Seduced by a local schoolteacher, Uma becomes pregnant and is ostracised by the villagers. One night, while sheltering from a storm under her tree, lightning strikes them and she is found in the morning, blood on her forehead like bridal vermillion. The tree, the only sign of real virility in a society of cowardly superstition, protected its bride.