The time: the transition years between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The space: the fertile delta of the Cauvery. The backdrop: the early stirrings of a freedom struggle against British colonialism in South India.
Nothing can disturb the serenity of Tiruvaiyaru, South India, until Panju, a brilliant boy from an orthodox family, decides to join the revolutionary freedom movement. His actions affect not only him, but those he holds close—his sister Janaki who, breaking age-old tradition, aims to becomes first local woman with a college education; his father Sambu who finds himself getting waylaid from his spiritual quest; and the beauteous temple dancer Ranjitham who covets Panju.