Priyanath lives in a village with his widowed mother. To help her around the house, he marries a beautiful young woman named Malati. Malati soon fits into the household and the village, helping her mother-in-law with household chores, learning to read from her, and stealing fruits from a neighbour’s garden with other young girls. Malati and Priyanath grow closer to each other during a storm at a local fair when they are briefly estranged and manage to find each other. Tragically, a tree falls over their house in the storm, and Priyanath’s mother is killed.
The impoverished Priyanath starts hawking goods on local trains to earn a living. Guilty that he did not repair the roof of his mother’s room in time and exhausted from the daily grind, Priyanath descends into depression. He falls off a moving train and is crippled for life. Meanwhile, the background of World War II causes strife in the village at large. Food rations run out as the government and the rich start hoarding them while the villagers starve. This affects Priyanath further, and he grows bitter, always complaining of the selfishness of others. The villagers start leaving for cities, hoping to find employment and sustenance. Unable to bear her husband’s ill-treatment, Malati kills herself.
Baishey Shravana was the first of Mrinal Sen’s films to be screened at a foreign film festival.