Begum Jaan transports us to the communally-charged time of the Partition, and the 'butchering' of India into two parts. The film tells the story of a brothel which lies right in the middle of the proposed Radcliffe line. When two officials, one from the Indian National Congress (Ashish Vidyarthi) and another from the All-India Muslim League (Rajit Kapoor), tell the madam of the brothel, Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan), that she has to vacate, she is defiant and determined that nothing can displace her and her girls from their home. Begum has full faith in the Raja (Naseeruddin Shah), whose patronage she enjoys, but her hopes are eventually dashed when he tells her the reduced authority of royalty in the new, democratic India. Begum Jaan also subtly shows the 'what if' side of the Partition. What if men had taken up arms and refused to be divided on the parochial basis of religion?