Vijay (Guru Dutt) writes unpopular poems about the destitute and poor. Ridiculed by his brothers and scorned by publishers, Vijay finds encouragement in a sweet prostitute, Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman). When a homeless man wearing a coat Vijay gave him is killed, Gulabo convinces a publisher to print his poems, believing Vijay to be dead. The poems are wildly popular, thanks to the myth conjured around Vijay's supposed death. When he reappears, he finds that few friends can be trusted.