Nearly caught by the police while carrying blackmarket goods in his bullock cart, Hiraman (Raj Kapoor) takes a vow never to carry contraband again. Transporting bamboo for a trader, he is beaten by two men when their horse swerves to avoid Hiraman's cart and upsets their carriage. He now vows never to carry bamboo again. One night he is asked to carry a woman passenger to a fair forty miles away. She is Hirabai (Waheeda Rehman), a Nautanki performer going to perform at the fair. As they travel together, Hiraman's innocence and simplicity charm Hirabai who is also moved by the songs he sings to pass the time. Hiraman tells her in song the legend of Mahua, a beautiful motherless girl who fell in love with a stranger but is later sold to a trader by her stepmother. Hirabai coaxes Hiraman to spend a few days at the fair and see her dance. At the Nautanki Hiraman gets into a fight with a drunkard who makes an insulting comment about Hirabai. Hirabai angrily asks him what right does he have to fight on her behalf. Hurt, Hiraman stays away from the show. Hirabai calls him to her tent and apologises to him. Hiraman asks her to leave this profession where people talk ill of her. His concern touches Hirabai's heart as she realizes he looks upon her just as is she were a respectable woman. Becoming unhappy with her situation, she refuses the local zamindar's overtures. The zamindar tries to force himself on her but she fights him off. Hirabai decides to leave the Nautanki company for her presence will threaten the livelihood of others in the troupe as the zaminndar will not leave them alone unless she gives in to him. But she cannot live a lie with Hiraman. She sends for him to say goodbye. At the train station she tells him she is going back to her old company. She tells a hurt Hiraman that like Mahua she already has been sold. As she departs and Hiraman returns to his cart he takes a third vow never to carry a woman from a Nautanki Company again.
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