During the 1947 Partition of India, Gautam Kumar and his family board a train to India with thousands of refugees to save themselves from the terrible riots. In the chaos, Gautam’s young son, Bharat (then 8 years old), accidentally loses his baby sister, Gudiya. Gautam stays behind to search for her, despite knowing the risk, and tells his son to take his mother and two younger siblings to Bharat’s aunt’s imported goods store. Before letting go, Gautam has Bharat promise him that Bharat will keep the family together in his place.
As a child, Bharat takes all sorts of odd jobs to support his family. In 1964, as a pre-teen, he joins The Great Russian Circus with his best friend, Vilayati, and spends a number of years there, becoming one of the biggest attractions of the show, and also wooing Radha in the process. He leaves the circus when his brother Chote hurts himself in an accident while trying to emulate him.
In the mid-1970s, Bharat joins the Indian migration prompted by the discovery of oil in the Gulf region, as he hopes to earn enough to send back home. Here, he falls in love with his chief engineer Kumud Raina (Katrina) and survives a mining accident. Kumud confesses her love for him, but he tells Kumud he can’t marry her, as he is afraid such a commitment will come in the way of fulfilling his father’s promise and leaves Saudi Arabia after his visa expires. Back home in India, Kumud arrives during his sister’s wedding to announce their love and says she is okay with being in a relationship without marriage. Bharat’s mother agrees on Bharat’s wish that they can be in a live-in relationship.
A few years pass and Bharat’s aunt dies in 1983. His now-elderly uncle, in need of money, decides to sell the imported goods store, a move Bharat disagrees with. He leaves India again with Vilayati to take jobs as sailors in order to earn enough money to buy the store from his uncle. After 8 months aboard the ship, during which Vilayati gets married to Suzan at Malta, and they later thwart a pirate attack, Bharat returns to India and successfully buys the store. He runs it throughout the 1990s as more changes in India take place, and life goes on.