Santubabu is an inconsequential clerk in a government office, and lives with his wife in a small run-down house they rent from the local doctor. At work he is often the butt of ridicule, and when the office peon whispers to him among a roomful of people, even suspicion, though all that the peon said was 'It rained cats and dogs.' One day he is tricked into accompanying the head clerk to the chief officer's bungalow. When a run-away servant's left-behind shirt is found to fit him, he is forced despite protestations into the position of doing errands around the house before going to work at the office. The shirt sits heavy on him, and try as he might to tear it off and destroy it, escape from the invisible wheel of subtle coercion that forces him into unacceptable roles is not easy. One of the most telling scenes in the film is that in which Santubabu is asked by the officer's wife to oversee the work of a gardener. The gardener, a wiry taciturn old man goes about his own work ignoring Santu altogether, silent alike to his remonstrations as well as overtures to friendship. At this point the officer returning home senses Santu's presence in the garden and wants to know who it is, on seeing him he says 'Thik hay' (It's Okay). It is then that Santu probably makes his most vocal protest, muttering to himself, 'Kya thik hai?' The film is indeed about the realisation that society keeps forcing one into incongruous niches and assuming that all is right. For most of the time however, Santu's revolt takes futile, often comic forms. When a shopkeeper gives him kerosene and tells him to keep it a secret, he rides his cycle from door to door for miles shouting to everyone the directions to Guptaji's shop and the fact that he is hoarding a stock of kerosene.
Santu's wife on the other hand, is more in control of herself within the space of her home. She spells out her individuality towards the very beginning when she tells her husband, 'Do not compare me with anyone else.' But even she cannot escape the cycle of exploitation, when she finds herself being called upon oftener and oftener to do the bidding of the doctor's wife on one or the other pretext. The circle perpetuates itself, and when the office peon dies and the son finds himself in his father's shoes, he is called upon to tend to the bicycle which Santubabu will ride to the officer's bungalow.
The film is often funny, like when the head clerk knocks at a bungalow gate, simply because he needs to go in and mount his bicycle from the height of the verandah. It is lyrical, portraying a very tender relationship between husband and wife. Santu and his wife have never gone out together, and Santu is determined to take her out and buy her a blouse. There are so many trivialities that stand in the way---when all else is taken care of it is discovered that they cannot leave the house simply because they do not possess a lock to put on the front door; ultimately they do go out together, no matter what it takes.
In his frustration, once Santu had told his wife that she was indeed so perverse that if he hurt himself, she would hurt herself too, but never say , 'Come let us both live.' At the end, when Santu comes home to find his wife with baby, that is however what he quietly tells her, ' From tomorrow I shall not go the Sahib's bungalow. And you, you will not go to the doctor's house.'
-- Nandini Gupta