Padayappa (Rajinikanth) is an engineer. Padayappa returns to his hometown to attend his sister's wedding. His sister's engaged to the son of his maternal uncle. During this happy occasion, Padayappa's father's foster brother demands a share in the family property. But Padayappa's father (Sivaji Ganesan) gives all of the property to him. His family is forced to leave the family's house. Due to this shock, his father dies at sight and his sister's wedding is cancelled because the groom went for money and married his Uncle's daughter.
Also, Nilambiri (Ramya Krishnan), the spoilt daughter of his maternal uncle, is in love with him. Meanwhile, Padayappa finds out that the hill that he owns has granite, and he digs it out and becomes a very famous name in the city as he does a lot of service for the poor. His family, once again, is able to settle down. His sister gets married to an engineer Padayappa hired, and Padayappa maintains his father's position in the village.
He loves Vasundhara (Soundarya), Nilambari's servant. When Nilambari finds this out, she goes crazy. Her parents beg Padayappa's widowed mother to allow Nilambari to marry Padayappa. Padayappa obeys his mother's orders to get married. However, Padayappa's mother becomes wise and tells off her brother in front of the entire village, giving a proposal of marriage to Vasundhara's mother instead of her brother, not letting her brother forget the humiliation he put her through when Padayappa's father died. Nilambari's dad commits suicide in humiliation. Nilambari, meanwhile, tries to kill the servant unsuccessfully.
After the wedding, Nilambari retreats into a room in her brother's house, only having Padayappa in her mind for 18 years. However, when her brother finally wakes her up, she plans her revenge on Padayappa, now a father of two adult daughters. Nelambari's brother also has a son. He studies in the same college as Padayappa's eldest daughter and is told by Nilambari that he should make Padayappa's daughter fall in love with him. At the same time Padayappa plans to get his eldest daughter married to his sisters son.
As a tradition in their village the groom and bride are asked if they both are not being forced to marry each other. Nilambari's plan is to make Padayappa's daughter say that she doesn't wish to get married to the groom that her parents want her to marry and that she is in love with someone else and in that process get Padayappa humiliated.
Her plan works, but Padayappa retaliates and makes his daughter's lover confess that he really fell in love with her, even though he was told only to act. Padayappa decides to take him to his house for the marriage, with Nilambari chasing behind.