The story of Rudali is set in South Bihar, depicting the struggle of a lone woman, Sanichari in a community of landless peasants. It details the devastating oppression by Rajput landlords, moneylenders, the police and the BDO's (block-development officers) under which the protagonists suffer. Yet it ends with a ray of hope, for someone has enough courage to fight the tide, and unite the tribal Dusaads and Ganjus under one umbrella.

The story is not very unique by itself. Poverty most of the time unfolds in boundless misery, losing land, death, rape and unjustified prison terms. That Sanichari was never able to shed tears when her own loved ones died is significant, as she always had to struggle frantically to stay alive and keep alive what had remained of her family. By the time she finally develops a business of "Funeral Wailing", she has no family left. The irony of her situation strikes her, but she refuses to be the one wallowing in self-pity. With the demand of her service growing, she decides to employ and train women who became prostitutes to survive. Through the process of weathering terrible personal losses and misfortunes, the alchemy of unspeakable sorrow and despair gradually produces in her a positive resolution. Sanichari becomes an icon of empowerment for tribal low-caste women.