Parinayam is the story of Unnimaya, a 17-year-old Brahmin girl who is coerced
to become the fourth wife of a 65-year-old man. Such marriages were sanctioned
by the custom among the high caste Brahmin community of the Nambooderies of Kerala
in the pre-independence days. Three months after her marriage and even before
she has had a chance at conjugal happiness, Unnimaya becomes a widow.
In a moment of weakness she succumbs to the advances of a young and ambitious Kathakali dancer Madhavan who hails from a lower caste. He goes to her dressed as a famous mythological character, seduces her and makes her pregnant. Driven by his ambition and trying to protect his future, the young dancer refuses to own her up. According to the Nambooderie's custom of those old days, a pregnant widow was to be excommunicated after a ritual 'trial' before a panel of judges headed by a vedic scholar.
However, Unnimaya is rescued and given shelter by Kunjunni, the young son of her deceased husband, who is an activist in a progressive Nahbooderie organization. The guilt-ridden Kathakali artist takes to the bottle and slowly drifts away from his peers and from his vocation. He finally summons up the courage to go to Unnimaya and seek her pardon. But the young woman snubs him, saying that he was not the father of her unborn child but a mythological character. Unnimaya herself at last finds salvation in spinning the traditional wheel from which she picks up the threads of a new life.