Ammaiyappan Mudaliar (Visu), an ordinary middle-class man who makes a simple living as a Central Government clerk. His family, a typical South Indian joint family, includes his dutiful wife Godavari, his oldest son Chidambaram (Raghuvaran), a junior officer at Indian Oil, and his wife Uma (Lakshmi), his second son Siva (Chandrasekhar), a factory worker, his youngest son Bharathi (a never do good fellow who has failed his high school exams twice) and his daughter Sarojini (Ilavarasi). The modest income from his government job barely provides for his family's needs. His sons contribute some amounts in proportion to their incomes. The family gets by, but Ammaiyappan worries for the future. Siva and Sarojini are not yet married, and Bharathi has a bleak future if he does not graduate high school. Sarojini is a particular worry, her beauty and charm are matched by her arrogance and contempt. She summarily rejects any marriage proposal, and her obstinate demeanor causes great concern to Ammaiyappan. Ammaiyappan nonetheless plows on through life hoping for solutions to his difficulties.