Siva, a student, comes to Vijayawada from a nearby town to pursue his education. He lives with his brother Sharath’s family, and enrolls in the VAS College of Arts and Sciences. Although Sharath and his daughter Keerthi get along well with Siva, his wife considers him a financial burden. Siva befriends a group of students and falls in love with Asha, sister of the honest police inspector Venkat.
The college’s (unopposed) student-union president, J. Durga Rao (known as J. D.) is the lowest rung in a gang ladder reaching through the gangster Ganesh to Bhavani, a crime boss. Bhavani uses the network to support his mentor Machiraju, a politician. Although J. D. is arrested many times, Bhavani continues to bail him out. When J. D. teases Asha on campus, Siva attacks him with a bicycle chain; a rivalry then develops between him and Ganesh.
The incident encourages Siva’s friends to ask him to stand for the student-union presidency, but he wants them to nominate Naresh (one of the group) instead. Ganesh’s attempts to pacify Siva fail, and Bhavani learns about him. He considers Siva a potential replacement for J. D., whose weakness annoys him.
Naresh is fatally assaulted by J. D. and Bhavani’s henchmen, and is taken to hospital. Siva retaliates, infuriating Bhavani. When Siva’s friends attend a wedding, they are attacked by Ganesh and others. One of Siva’s friends, Malli, is murdered and Siva swears revenge. Sensing a risk to Sharath’s family after an attempt on Keerthi’s life, Siva leaves their house and moves into his friend Chinna’s hostel.
He agrees to contest the student-union presidential election. Bhavani cheats labour-union leader Krishna Reddy, who changes his allegiance to Siva. Around this time, Asha and Siva marry. Bhavani begins attacking and murdering Siva’s close aides, and Siva ensures that Sharath relocates to Visakhapatnam as a part of his job. Siva attacks Bhavani’s henchmen, and helps Venkat arrest Ganesh.
Machiraju sees Siva as a potential replacement for Bhavani, and stops supporting the latter. Bhavani learns about Siva’s relationship to Sharath, and kidnaps Keerthi. Ganesh appears in court, and an arrest warrant is issued for Bhavani. Insulted and humiliated, Bhavani kills Keerthi and Machiraju. Siva and Bhavani later duel on a shopping-complex terrace. Bhavani commits suicide, and Siva walks out as Asha and Venkat watch in dismay.