This movie is based on the famous novel, 'Adhoba' (married but undeclared widow, according to Hindu society), written by Mahashweta Devi, that was inspired from true events.
Saraswati, the main protagonist of the story is a simple housewife, who stays in a village called Shantigram, along with her husband Haran and their two kids Mukul and Parul. The state government decides to give away vast tracts of village land which is very fertile to an industrialist to set up his industry.
When the villagers realize the enormity of the impact this so-called progressive move to industrialize the area would have on their lives, they are horrified. Without the fertile land they would lose not only their livelihood, but their very way of life. With survival at stake, they are faced with no other option than to resist the government's decision.
Here starts the confrontation between life and livelihood. The unwillingness of the villagers to give up their land leads to mass destruction and gruesome killings in the village. Civil War thus rages across Shantigram for control of the cultivated land so that it can be turned over to industrialists.
Haran, who had no land of his own does not participate in the protest, his only concern is educating his children and taking care of his family. On the other hand, Saraswati is actively involved in the protest movement along the other villagers. What will be the plight of the villagers? Will be resistance be successful, or will the government force them into giving up their farming lands for the sake of industrial expansion?