It is 1798 and Richard Dawson, an English painter, has arrived on the southern coast of India, looking for employment. Finding his fellow countrymen unhelpful, he boldly travels to the kingdom of Tipu Sultan to catch history in the making. Though reputedly cruel to the British, Tipu allows Richard to stay at his fort in Srirangapatna, much to the resentment of his courtiers. As Richard and his apprentice, a runaway Brahmin boy called Mukunda, experiment with Indian and Western styles of painting, they find themselves drawn into a high-stakes political intrigue. Devised by the women of the former royal family of Mysore, the Wodeyars, and catalysed by the striking Suhasini, this plan to oust Tipu must involve active support from Richard and Mukunda. Both painters fall under the spell of the elusive Suhasini, even as their paintings become the unexpected crux of the last Anglo-Mysore War.