Diwakar Barve, a celebrated playwright and novelist is given a prestigious literary award. Mrs. Damyanti Rane, a high society patron of the arts, is throwing a party in the evening in Barve’s honour. Her guests are a mixed crowd of poets, writers, actors and intellectuals from different walks of life, all preparing themselves through the long day for the evening’s festivities.
Damyanti Rane is a rich widow, deeply unhappy in her personal life. She spends a great deal of her energy projecting herself as an artistic, cultured woman. Her daughter, Sona, reviled by her for having a child out of wedlock with a man she despises, hates her. Sona thinks of Damyanti as a parasite, sitting on a cultural vacuum and living off the talent of people she buys with her patronage. Sona is weary of the frenetic life that mills around her mother, and the desperate craving the people around her demonstrate for recognition and fame. She cannot stand the airs they put on at these gatherings. Of the many who are patronized by her mother, she is only attached to Amrit, the poet-warrior, who has gone to the villages to fight alongside tribal communities.
Among the other invitees is Diwakar’s wife, Mohini, a former successful actress. Mohini is a frustrated woman, longing for a gesture of warmth from her husband, torn between hope and despair. They are accompanied by Bharat, a young poet wavering between the success Barve so clearly enjoys, and the idealism of Amrit. Vrinda, a young intellectual with leftist leanings, comes to the party as well, troubled by the distance between her criticism of a bourgeois life and her own involvement in it. Ravindra, an established stage actor, lurks in the party as well, nursing a secret desire for Mohini. Also among them is the middle-aged critic, Mrs. Ruth Abraham, with her sullen young lover, Subhash, in tow.
In the midst of all the noise and laughter, the party takes on a bizarre character of its own. Brief encounters and confessions ensue as the characters are made to confront the sham of their own carefully put-together identities. While everyone is touched by the efforts and heroism of Amrit, they are shamed by his passion for the truth. Finally, the mood shifts when the journalist Avinash arrives with news of Amrit, who is lying injured in a hospital. As the evening draws to a close, news comes of Amrit’s death at the hands of unknown assailants.