The film is set in post-WWII Moscow. Lieutenant Vladimir Sharapov (Vladimir Konkin) is a young reconnaissance officer and a decorated war hero who has just returned from the war and is assigned to peacetime service with the famous MUR (Moscow Department of Criminal Investigations). There he becomes part of an elite detective team led by the brilliant, tough, no-nonsense Captain Gleb Zheglov (Vysotsky). The duo becomes embroiled in two seemingly separate investigations: that of the murder of young aspiring actress Larisa Gruzdeva, and the hunt for a vicious gang of armed robbers that calls itself "Black Cat" and constantly manages to evade capture.
Sakthivelu alias "Velu" Nayakan is the son of an anti-government union leader (Kitty). The child, Velu, is tricked by the police into locating his father, and then witnesses his father's death in a police shootout; he later kills the person who was the cause of his father's death and escapes to Bombay.
The film is set in 16th-century northern Kerala. The plot unfolds at Puthooram, the house of great Kannappan Chekavar (Balan K. Nair). Kannappan Chekavar adopts the son of his estranged sister when the boy loses both his parents and brings him to Puthooram to live and learn with his cousins. The orphan boy, Chandu, a quick learner, earns the love and admiration of his uncle, while he is loathed by his cousin Aromal (Suresh Gopi).
Neelakantan (Mohanlal) is the heir to the well-known Mangalassery family. He squanders away his father's largess and good name, but is loved by the people who know him well. He has been the arch-rival of Shekaran of the Mundakkal family since childhood. During a minor ruckus, one of Neelakantan's aides accidentally kills Shekaran's uncle (Janardanan). This incites Shekaran to plan to avenge the death of his uncle.
After a brief introduction to some of the main characters of the story, the beginning sees a group of Rishis, led by Vishvamitra, performing a Yajna in a forest not far from Ayodhya, the Capital of the Kingdom of Kosala. This Yajna, like several before it, is interrupted and destroyed by a group of flying demons led by Ravana's relation Maricha. After seeing yet another Yajna destroyed, a despondent Vishvamitra appeals to Lord Vishnu for salvation. Vishnu appears in a spiritual blaze of light, informing him of his saviour- Prince Rama of Ayodhya, first-born of King Dasharatha. Vishvamitra travels to Ayodhya to meet the King and requests him to offer Rama's services to help destroy the demons in the forests. Although the Solar Dynasty King is reluctant at first to send the young lad, he is reassured by the resident Rishi that no harm will come to him and even encouraged to send his third son Lakshmana as an accompaniment.
In the opening scene, chickens are being prepared for a meal when a chicken escapes and an armed gang chases after it in a favela called the Cidade de Deus ("City of God"). The chicken stops between the gang and a young man named Rocket (Buscapé), who believes that the gang wants to kill him. A flashback traces Rocket, the narrator, back to the late 1960s. He lived incredibly poor in this slum of Rio.
Marauding bandits approach a rural mountain village, but their chief decides to spare it until after the harvest because they had raided it before. The plan is overheard by a farmer who tells the rest of village. Lamenting their fate, three farmers ask Gisaku, the village elder and miller, for advice. He declares they should hire samurai to defend the village. Since they have no money to offer, Gisaku tells them to find hungry samurai.
Edo, 1630. Tsugumo Hanshirō arrives at the estate of the Ii clan and says that he wishes to commit seppuku within the courtyard of the palace. To deter him Saitō Kageyu (Rentarō Mikuni), the Daimyo's senior counselor, tells Hanshirō the story of another rōnin, Chijiiwa Motome – formerly of the same clan as Hanshirō.
Surya (Rajinikanth), the abandoned child of fourteen-year-old unwed mother Kalyani (Srividya) is brought up by a generous lady living in the slums. He grows up to become a hot tempered youth who fights the injustice that takes place daily. These qualities lead him to cross swords with the local don Devarajan (Deva) (Mammootty). Deva's friend Ramana is fatally beaten up by Surya, and Deva threatens that if his friend was laid to rest then he will kill Surya. Ramana succumbs to his wounds, and Surya is imprisoned. However, when Deva discovers Ramana's offense, he decides to get Surya released from jail.
Krishnaswamy (Kamal Hassan) is a widower living happily along with his mother-in-law Saraswathi (S. N. Lakshmi), daughter Kaveri (Mahanadi Shobana) and son Bharani (Mahanadhi Dinesh) in a village near Trichy. Dhanush (Cochin Haneefa); a con from the city has an eye on Krishnaswamy's prosperity and asks him to join his chit fund business. At first Krishnaswamy is reluctant; however when a rich friend from a foreign country visits house, he too wants to be rich like them. Hence he agrees to Dhanush's proposal and arrives at the city. However, he is unaware of Dhanush's tricks and when Dhanush swindles away the chitfund money, the blame is put on Krishnaswamy. and he lands up in jail. He finds that even his future father-in-law Panjapakesan (Poornam Viswanathan) is also in jail for same reason whose daughter is Yamuna (Sukanya) working as nurse. He advises Krishnaswamy not to be angry if the jailor is cruel; as he might be released sooner if he is submissive in the jail. During Krishnaswamy's tenure in jail, Yamuna takes care of his family. Due to unavoidable situations, his mother-in-law dies and his son and daughter go missing. Krishnaswamy learns this after coming out from the jail suffering unnecessary hardships.
Chacko Master (Thilakan) is a high-school headmaster who is a president's medal winner in Mathematics. He is a very strict teacher and emphasizes memorization and discipline at the expense of analysis and creativity in school. He punishes his students ruthlessly and gives no special treatment to his son Thomas, who is also a student in his class. Chacko always assumes that his son is behind every mischief in class, and punishes him until the actual culprit gives himself in.
The film opens with the aging gangster, Singaperumal, forcing himself on a young girl, Subbu. He is unable to perform, and vents his anger by slapping the helpless Subbu. Singaperumal is the grand don of crime in Madras. His lieutenant, Pasupathi, brings a proposal. A large stash of cocaine, worth about 20 million rupees, has entered the city. The guy bringing the stash wants to sell it for 5 million rupees. Pasupathi sees the immediate easy profit, as well as the long term benefit (to control the cocaine market with such a large supply) and the recognition that they are able to pull off such a deal. The drawback is that the stash really belongs to their arch rival Gajendran. Singaperumal knows that Gajendran is a vicious and unpredictable adversary, and the venture is risky and likely to become messy. He decides to pass. Pasupathi dourly suggests Singaperumal is getting old and rusty. He asks Singaperumal to loan him the five million so he can do the job himself. Pasupathi is prepared to face the risks, and in return for the loan, he offers Singaperumal a cut of the profits. Singaperumal agrees to the loan, but, instead asks Pasupathi to first get the stash and then think of the profit distribution. The money for the loan is brought to Singaperumal.
Anjooran (N. N. Pillai), and his four sons Balaraman (Thilakan), Swaminathan (Innocent), Premachandran (Bheeman Raghu) and Ramabhadran (Mukesh) are in severe enmity with the Anappara family. Anjooran's bitter hatred toward Anappara Achamma (Philomina) stems from events in the past, when the men of Anappara abducted Balaraman's fiancée and forced her to marry the eldest son of Achamma. The resulting series of events saw Anjooran's wife being killed, and him being sent to jail for avenging her by murdering Achamma's husband. Consequently, he develops a hatred toward all women, and their entry into his home is prohibited from then on.