This is a simple, straightforward tale about the rise and fall of human civilization that focuses solely on four characters: a farmer (Naseeruddin Shah), a weaver (Om Puri), a trader (M.K. Raina), and a woman (Shabana Azmi). At the beginning of the story, the workers in a decaying village are offered food and water if they work for the local lords. The farmer and the weaver refuse. The farmer grows food for them both, and the weaver creates textiles that uses to barter with an itinerant trader. One day a frightened, lonely woman arrives on the scene and she is taken in by the two men. She cooks and cleans, and before long becomes a source of contention. Meanwhile, the trader is observing these events from the sidelines.