Pushpanathan is the zamindar of Mathur who lives with his widowed mother Ponnammal. He is persuaded by his college mate Manohar to start a textile mill. Manohar manages to manipulate and divert Pushpanathan's wealth. He introduces Pushpanathan to Bhanumathi, a dancer in the city. Bhanumathi, though daughter of a prostitute, leads an honorable life. She falls in love with Pushpanathan.
Neelamegham Pillai, the former accountant of the zamindari, now lives in utter poverty. His grandchildren are Kanchana and Sabeshan. Pushpanathan comes to help his family. He becomes enamoured by Kanchana and weds her. He assures Bhanumathi that his marriage will not affect his love for her. Kanchana is ill-treated by her mother-in-law. She is heart-broken when she comes to know of her husband's relationship with Bhanumathi. The financial crisis caused by the construction of the textile mill and domestic worries disturb Pushpanathan's peace of mind.
Seetha, a young lady doctor comes to Mathur. Pushpanathan is drawn to her. But Seetha is in love with her college mate doctor Sabeshan. Kanchana burns with suspicion and jealousy. Seetha leaves Mathur to avoid Pushpanathan, who vents his anger on his wife. Kanchana leaves home but Pushpanathan does not allow Kanchana to take her son. Ponnammal gradually begins to realise the value of Kanchana. She and Bhanumati ask Pushpanathan to bring Kanchana back home. Bhanumathi dies and transfers all her wealth to Kanchana's son. The story ends with Sabeshan wedding Seetha and Pushpanathan bringing Kanchana back home.
The story of the film is based on a popular Tamil novel Kanchanayin Kanavu, authored by Lakshmi Thiripurasundari. The film threw light on some social evils of the time including polygamy, injustice and discrimination towards women.