The film is about the ideological clash between a young man, Suryam (Chiranjeevi), and his father, Bilahari Ganapathi Sastry (Gemini Ganesan). While the father believes that music and his life are for salvation, the son strives for a better society.
They part ways after Suryam decides to teach his father a lesson by representing the need for social awareness in a concert. Sastry hates this idea of polluting the sacredness of music by individualism and promotes another disciple ignoring Suryam.
Fed up with his father's refusal to identify him, Suryam leaves home. He finds solace with Lalita (Shobana) and her family. Sastry, who believes in the supremacy of caste over humanity, tries to break their relationship by instigating drunkards from the village whom Suryam has sworn to reform. Suryam vows not to marry in exchange for the drunkards reforming themselves.
Sastry takes a major blow when the disciple he groomed later marries his daughter and abhors him from singing Sastry's favorite raga - The Bilahari.
Finally, Sastry changes his chauvinistic self, when the Indian government recognizes Suryam's efforts at social reform and the Prime Minister of India himself comes to his village to felicitate Suryam. He realizes his son's ideals and proudly addresses himself as Suryam's father rather than a great musician.