a typical college in a typical Indian city, the hostel boys Madan Sharma (Aamir Khan) and his friends including Ranjeet Prakash (Ashutosh Gowariker) are a rowdy and troublesome lot. But on one particular day, when Madan and his friends find out there will not be a holiday for them on the day of Holi, the festival of colors, the boys decide not to attend the classes. The hostel superintendent Professor Singh (Naseeruddin Shah), the only lecturer with some links with the students, watches with apprehension their growing restlessness. A notice announcing a further postponement of examinations adds to the bitterness. A fight erupts out of nowhere between principal Phande's (Om Puri) nephew and another student, in which the principal's nephew is hurt and the other boy is promptly rusticated. This is seen as a drastic punishment, and the news spreads like wildfire to all the students of the college. Resistance is organized in the library, in the laboratory, in the classrooms and the college grounds as the students rebel against the principal.