The story is told from the perspective of young Ismat. When she joins the Begum’s household she notices inexplicable and frightening things going on that she cannot understand: At night, there are strange noises and movements underneath the quilt in the Begum’s bedroom.
Only years later, when she begins to understand, does she write the story down. It contains allusions to the topic of female sexuality, which cause public controversy that eventually lead to a court case where the writer has to defend herself. She refuses to apologise for what she has written – yet she still wins the case.
The film is an adaptation of the comprehensive anthology by Ismat Chughtai, one of the best-known Muslim women writers of the 20th century. She is considered to be one of the most powerful voices in Urdu literature, famous for her courageous exploration of and writing about female sexuality and middle-class morality. In 1976 she was honoured with the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards of the Indian government.