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Zeenat (Gul Panag) is an independentÂ MuslimÂ woman living inÂ Himachal Pradesh. She agrees to marry Amir Khan, her boyfriend, despite his parents' reservations. After their marriage, her husband leaves forÂ Saudi ArabiaÂ to begin employment.
Meera (Ayesha Takia), a simpleÂ RajasthaniÂ HinduÂ woman, has everything in her life in accordance with customs and traditions: her formative years, her recent marriage into a traditional Rajasthani family and her daily chores within the walls of herÂ haveli. Coincidentally, her husband, Shankar, is in Saudi Arabia, his new workplace. Meera finds it tough without her husband but they manage to stay in touch. Shankar regularly sends his wages home to support his family that includes his father, Randhir Singh (Girish Karnad), mother, Gowri Singh (Prateeksha Lonkar), his paternal grandmother (Uttara Baokar) and Meera. One day, Meera does not find the remittance from Shankar. Time passes and when there are neither any further remittances nor any correspondence from her husband, Meera gets worried. When frantic inquiries are made, she is devastated to know that Shankar was killed in a freak accident that was allegedly caused by his Muslim roommate.
When the news of Shankar's death reaches the SinghÂ haveli, everyone turns somber and the ceremonies towards rendering her into a widow emotionally drains Meera. Her vivaciousness and exuberance are thrust behind her black veil. The rest of the family vents their frustration of losing their only bread-winner on Meera, by blaming her for bringing bad-luck to their family. Meera, being her respectful self, bears the insults silently.
On the other side, Zeenat hears that her husband has been arrested for murdering his roommate in Saudi Arabia. She is convinced that it must have been an accident, but the Saudi law is unforgiving and Amir is scheduled to be executed. An Indian officer explains to her that Saudi law permits release of a criminal if the wife of the deceased forgives the guilt. Armed only with a photograph of Shankar and Amir, Zeenat sets out to find Meera. En route, she meets aÂ BehrupiyaÂ (Shreyas Talpade). TheÂ bahuroopiyaÂ introduces himself and his profession as being multi-faceted and multi-talented in arts and mimicry. This profession requires him to keep visiting different places to perform "tricks" for his income. He turns out to be a petty con-man when he hoodwinks Zeenat and steals her belongings. However, when Zeenat is in trouble, he returns to rescue her with his artistic talent. He reveals his sympathetic view when Zeenat details her plight; he offers to help her with whatever knowledge he has. After making a lot of educated guesses, they reachÂ Jodhpur. With local help, they identify the SinghÂ haveli. When Zeenat directly requests the Singh family to pardon Amir's mistake, their anger drives her away. She feels that maybe talking through and befriending Meera might help her cause. TheÂ bahuroopiyaÂ takes leave of Zeenat and wishes her the best for her efforts.
At a temple, which Meera visits as her daily ritual, Zeenat makes her first contact. Zeenat is too afraid to tell Meera the truth about the situation, and she does not reveal who she is or why she has come. Over a few weeks, they become good friends and spend most of the time together. Their friendship brings out the missing part in each of their personalities. In the process, Zeenat realizes helplessness; this is totally new to her forthright way of thinking. Meera, on the other hand, gets a glimpse of freedom; this brings her out of the shell of the traditions in herÂ haveliÂ and gives her a new perspective on her life.
In the meanwhile, the SinghÂ haveliÂ is under a debt to Chopra (Nagesh Kukunoor), a local factory owner. When Randhir requests him for more time to repay it, he is given an offer â€” pardoning the debt in exchange for Meera. Though initially set back by Chopra's offer, Randhir prefers theÂ haveliÂ to Meera.
When the news of the imminent death sentence arrives, Zeenat is compelled to tell the truth to Meera. Meera is shocked beyond belief to hear Zeenat's words. The fact that her friendship was based on false pretenses is what hurts her more. She immediately refuses to sign theÂ maafinamaÂ (statement of forgiveness). She makes it clear that she wants to hurt her husband's murderer, even if it was an accident, because of how much she is hurting in her new, veiled life. She leaves for theÂ haveli. Zeenat, initially, is deeply hurt from Meera's decision but eventually accepts it as fate and decides to leave for her hometown. Meera later has a change of heart, perhaps because of her disillusionment at Randhir's willingness to "sell" her to Chopra. She gets encouragement from her paternal grandmother and hurries towards the railway station, where she meets Zeenat and gives her the signed statement of forgiveness. Zeenat extends her hand from the train and Meera grabs it and climbs aboard, presumably running away from the only life she has ever known, as the train speeds up into the distance.
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