Subramania lyer's second wife is a Marathi lady Parbathi Bai (Vaani). Their daughter is Yamuna. Their neighbour, popular singer Papanasam Vaidhi (Nair Raman) has a son Babu, who is close to Yamuna from childhood. They grow up, fond of each other. Yamuna, now a pretty young lady (Archana Joglekar) is older than Babu (Abhishek) by 10 years.
Her parents find it impossible to get Yamuna married as she is the daughter of Parbathi Bai, who is considered as Subramania lyer's concubine. Years roll by, but her marriage does not take place. Yamuna, now 30 years old, gives up on her chances of getting married and Babu gives her moral support.
Babu's father Vaidhi loses his voice, so he is keen that Babu should become a good Carnatic singer. He takes Babu to popular Carnatic classical singer and guru Ranganna (Nedumudi Venu) and requests him to accept Babu as his disciple. Babu starts his training under Ranganna.
When Subramania lyer dies, Babu takes Parbathi Bai and Yamuna to see his dead body at his village, but by then it is too late as his body has already been cremated by his son. The villagers talk ill about Yamuna and her mother, who gets upset and return to their village.
Babu's neighbour Thangamma (Sangeetha), a young lady married to an old man, has an eye on Babu. One night, she manages to enter his room and forces him to have a physical relationship. Babu resists in the beginning and yields to her pressure. Babu feels guilty after that encounter and that is also when he realises his love for Yamuna.
Subramania lyer's son visits Parbathi Bai and Yamuna and, advises them to be frugal as he can no longer afford to support them financially. He agrees to let them stay in the same house but refuses to provide any other support.
Babu develops courage and expresses his love for Yamuna. But Yamuna declines, stating that he should focus on his music and achieve great heights rather than aspiring for her, as she is much older than to him. Though upset, Babu does not accept her refusal.
Thangamma keeps visiting Babu at night, but he refuses to meet her. Once she manages to enter his room and pleads with him to accept her love but Babu refuses and reveals his love for Yamuna. Thangamma, unable to accept Babu's rejection commits suicide the next day.
As advised by Yamuna, Babu decides to concentrate on his music and practises regularly under Ranganna, who teaches him how to realise the music in life and nature by focusing his mind on them. However, he is distracted constantly by memories of Yamuna. His friend Raju (Vivek) advises him but Babu is adamant to achieve his love. Left with no choice, Raju informs Yamuna's mother about Babu's love. Parbathi expresses no objection for Babu to marry Yamuna, provided Yamuna agrees. Yamuna refuses again as she is keen that Babu should achieve his goals in life.
When Ranganna becomes seriously ill, Gangadharam Pillai (Shanmuga Sundaram), one of the rich persons in the village, agrees to give Rs.3,000/- for medical expenses provided Babu performs before all the rich people at a brothel. Babu sings for the sake of the money and makes arrangements to shift Ranganna to Tanjore for medical treatment. But Ranganna refuses to go for treatment He asks Babu to sing his favourite slokas so that he can listen and die peacefully. Babu sings and Ranganna dies peacefully. Babu is shocked by the loss of his guru.
The next day, Babu goes for a singing programme, but moves away without singing as he has lost all interest in life after the loss of his guru and with Yamuna spurning his love. His father searches for Babu; unable to locate him, he meets Yamuna; his updates about Babu shock her.
Babu moves to Chennai and lives alone, unable to sing or forget Yamuna. Three years pass by. One day, Raju notices Babu on the road and rescues him. Raju understands that Babu's deep love for Yamuna is preventing him from getting back to his life and music. Raju returns to the village and asks Yamuna to bring back Babu to his normal life. Yamuna now realizes how much her refusal has impacted the life of Babu. She comes to Chennai and meets Babu, accepts his love and they unite physically and emotionally. Now that Babu has got his love back, Yamuna makes him realize that he has to scale new peaks in music, which is the prime reason for his existence. Babu accepts and gets back to his music.
[from the book Pride of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2013, by G Dhananjayan, Blue Ocean Publishers, 2014]