Kusum is the touching story of a family's fight against bad luck, poor conditions and disease.
Kaushal, her father, drives a motorised rickshaw and works his fingers to the bone to support his family. Sumitra, Kusum's mother, is about to have a baby. Kusum's family is poor, but their life isn't too bad, until Kusum falls ill. She isolates herself, she has raving fits and she refuses to eat properly. Her family takes her to see a doctor, but no physical illness can be found. It's evil spirits, say the neighbours. Kusum, Kaushal and Aunt Suman journey to the neighbouring town of Hapur, where Bhagat the healer lives.
Kusum is an ordinary 14-year-old Indian girl. She lives in Delhi, goes to school and thinks about her future - until she falls ill. Kusum stops eating, isolates herself and has severe fits of bad temper. The family seeks help from western medicine but eventually turns to traditional spiritual healing under Bhagat. Bhagat is well known throughout the region, and people travel hundreds of miles to see him. He examines Kusum. His diagnosis is that evil spirits have attacked the family. Bhagat then orders treatment and his methods include conversation, rituals and herbal treatments, just as joint trance sessions in which spirits talk constitute the core. Should a patient fail to enter a trance, Bhagat's assistant Meena takes the spirits into her and is entranced on behalf of the patient. The road towards healing is long and the spirits are not easy opponents.