It is the year 1856. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah is the king of Awadh, one of the last independent kingdoms of India. The British colonialists, intent on controlling this rich land, have sent general Outram on a secret mission to clear the way for an annexation. Pressure is mounting amidst intrigue and political manoeuvres, but the Nawab whiles away his time in pursuit of pleasure and religious practice. The court is of no help either—Court nobles Mir and Mirza, ignoring the situation of their country and all their duties towards their families, spend their days playing endless games of chess. The film is based on Munshi Premchand's short story of the same name.