When Premchand wrote GO-DAAN, he poured into this magnificent novel all his intimate knowledge and rich experience of rural life in Uttar Pradesh. He peopled his novel with two sets of Characters-one of the rural type with all their strong points and weaknesses and the other the urban type with all their hollowness and so phistication. He interwove the novel with these characters in such a manner that they stand out boldly in the various dramatic incidents, which provide the emotional highlights of the film.
GO-DAAN is the tragic life-story of Hori (Raaj Kumar), a true peasant of india. He is a fatalist, who has be come so, facing crises after crises in his dealings with moneylenders and the richer classes. And, he dies like most men with an unfulfilled desire. He dies without owning a cow, “the Goddess of Wealth in the House” as the peasants call it, the cow that can give milk to his grandson, the cow that can be given away in GO-DAAN (Cowgift”) after his death. All that he has in his hands at the time of his death is one rupee and four annas, his lifetime savings. He had a faithful and loving wife Dhania (kamini Kaushal) though she had a sharp tongue. His brother Hira (Mahendra) was always a source of trouble. It was he who poisoned the cow, when Hori bought one, out of sheer jealousy. But when the police came, Hori does his best to save his brother from trouble. Hori’s son Gobar a rebel by nature gave him a different type of trouble. He had an affair with Jhunia (Shubha Khote) and when she was with child he deserted the village and went off to the big city. Hori and Dhania thought twice before giving refuge to her. And when they accepted her in the house, they incurred the wrath of the entire village, which imposed a fine and which had to be paid. To pay off the fine, Hori got entangled more and more with moneylenders and had to get his house mortgaged for marrying off his daughter. Ultimately be became a landless labourer working in his own fields and in quarries and for whom death was the only release. In contrast to the miserable life of Hori, the life of the landlord was different. The life of the landlord and his pleasure-loving friends provided dramatic relief but it was part and parcel of the story.
GO-DAAN portrays not only india that has been in the recent past but also the rich traditions and culture of the centuries as seen in the lives of people in villages and cities.