A lavish costume drama set in Lucknow in 1856. Two indolent chess-obsessed nobleman, neglecting their families, continuing to play while the Maharajah, an effete poet-musician, is being dethroned by the British East India Company. The two noblemen, fearful that they may be forced to fight for their ruler, run away and continue their chess game away from the politcal storm. Eventually they end up fighting bitterly with each other. Ray's first film in Hindi offers political comments on Anglo-Indian relations, utilising the pawns and queens of the chess board as strong metaphors for the colonial situation.