The film starts in 1796, four years after the occupation of Malabar by the English East India Company and towards the end of the First Pazhassi Revolt (1793–1797). The revolt is led by Kerala Varma (Mammootty), the Raja of Pazassi Palace, of Kottayam house. The exploitation of the native Indian resources by the Company had culminated in popular revolts against its authority across the district. With the help of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja's uncle Kurumbranadu ruler Veeravarma (Thilakan), who is jealous of Pazhassi Raja for his success and influence, and Raja's old companion Pazhayamveedan Chandhu (Suman), the Company act against Pazhassi Raja. This forces Pazhassi Raja to escape to the forests of Wayanad. The tribal force led by Neeli captures Assistant Collector Thomas Hervey Baber (Harry Key) and his fiancée Dora (Linda Arsenio) in the jungle, in spite of his commander's objection. The Raja treats Thomas Baber and Dora as his guest and releases them.