This movie is about the tawaif Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari), who is born to a courtesan, Nargis (also Meena Kumari). After being spurned by her lover Shahabuddin's (Ashok Kumar) family, Nargis is driven to a graveyard where she gives birth to Sahibjaan secretly. Nargis dies during childbirth and her sister Nawabjaan (Veena)- a brothel madam - brings her up as her own. Unable to break away from the vicious circle, Sahibjaan grows up to be a beautiful and popular dancer/singer. Forest ranger Salim Ahmed Khan (Raaj Kumar), enthralled by her beauty and innocence, eventually convinces her to elope with him, which she does. But trials and tribulations await Sahibjaan as she is recognized by men wherever she goes in the company of Salim.