Ram Sastri is an honest and upright purohit earning his livelihood by performing religious ceremonies. He would starve rather that accept charity in any form. He has a big family-wife and eight children. To add to his woes, his sister, accompanied by her daughter, comes to stay with him. The purohitís grown-up daughter, Shalini, once accepts a sari from her childhood friend Ashok. She accepts the gift because the sari she has is in tatters. But Ram Sastri would have none of it and sees to it that the sari is given away to a beggar woman.
Once the children enact a drama with Shalini in the role of a boon-granting goddess. Everyone expresses his or her wish. Her brother Gautam wants to be a doctor. Purna wants to be a musician while Devi desires to be happily married. One brother wants to be an engineer, another a major in the army. And, large-hearted Shalini promises to fulfil their wishes. Despite objections, she takes up a job locally to meet the needs of the family. When it is time for Gautam to seek admission to the medical college, Shalini goes to the city to solicit recommendation. She stays with a danseuse friend whose inaugural dance performance is fixed for the following day.
At the house of an M.L.A. from whom she expects to obtain a recommendation, Shalini meets a woman who promises her to take to a big wig who would arrange for the admission of her brother to the medical college. The next day, Shalini goes to attend the dance performance but there she meets the woman of the previous day who drags her forthwith to the big wig who molests her. Shalini returns home to be told that Gautam had already been allotted a seat in the medical college. Now he needs money to join the college and again Shalini is called upon to do the needful. Meanwhile, Shalini is transferred to Delhi and she decides to go. There, She asks the boss for an advance so that she could remit the money to her brother for his college fees. He offers to pay but at price. She weighs the pros and cons and finally, in the interests of the family, agrees to succumb to the bossís carnal desire. From then on, she earns plenty of money as prostitute and Ram Sastriís family prospers.
Deviís marriage is fixed and Shalini comes home to attend the wedding. To her horror she discovers that the bridgroom had once been her "customer" Provoked by Shaliniís song, he disappears on the bridal night, but she seeks him out and the two, after an argument, agree to forget the episode and returns to his bride.
A chance remark of Shalini... "I have become immune to the presence of men"...raises suspicion in the minds of her parents. "Ashok corroborates saying that she had been living as a prostitute. Ram Sastri is furious. He turns her out, says is dead and performs that last rites. Even Gautam, whose marriage with the Tahsildarís daughter she had arranged, scoffs at her and drags her out of the house. What happens to Shalini who sacrificed her all in order to fulfil the drams of her brothers and sisters? An answer to this all-important question is contained in the heart-warming and absorbing climax of AAINA.