The start of the film is set in 1951. In a small village of Idar in Sabarkantha District North Gujarat, a young man named Gurukant Desai (Abhishek Bachchan) dreams of making it big some day. His father (Rajendra Gupta), the headmaster of the village school, tells him that dreams never come true. Gurukant a.k.a. "Guru" decides to go to Turkey and enter the spice trade; later, he is promoted but refuses the job because he wants to work for himself. Back in his village, he marries Sujata (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), mainly because of the dowry she brings him. Along with Sujata and her brother Jignesh (Arya Babbar), Guru migrates to Mumbai and starts trading in cloth. Gradually, he expands his business and sets up manufacturing units of his own, under the name Shakti Corporation.Manik Dasgupta a.k.a. Nanaji (Mithun Chakraborty), who publishes a newspaper Swatantra, treats Guru as his son. Guru likewise looks to him as a father figure who gives him support during his early days of struggle in Bombay. He also develops a strong friendship with Meenu (Vidya Balan), granddaughter of Dasgupta. Meenu develops multiple sclerosis as she grows up, and begins using a wheelchair.