The film opens into the daily life of Dinkarrao Marutrao Bhosale, an ordinary, mild mannered bank clerk in Mumbai. The narrator points out how Bhosle represents the downfall of the once proud Maharashtrian: the meek and timid Bhosle lets himself be pushed around and denigrated by everyone. The narrator summarizes how middle class men like Bhosle live out their lives. Their middle class earnings barely support their existence and the slightest blip (e.g. children's education or marriage or health issues) courts debt. They retire to an uncertain future with dwindling incomes against the rising costs of living, and vanish into insignificance.
Bhosle faces several practical troubles. His son Rahul scores just under what is required for admission to an engineering school, and his daughter Shashikala is an aspiring actor. Bhosle approaches the local politician Nandakumar Chandekar aka Nandya, his old friend and board member at the engineering school, but Nandya, knowing Bhosle cannot afford a donation, gently turns him down. Shashikala is turned away at auditions because her Maharashtrian name is not as stylish as the North Indian names. Further, Bhosle is approached by a property developer Gosalia who offers to buy out Bhosle's ancestral home. (The home is located centrally in the city and Gosalia wishes to put up a lucrative mall and hotel at that location.) Gosalia offers to compensate Bhosle and offer him a new flat in Badlapur outside Mumbai. Gosalia remarks that the new location is rife with Maharashtrians. Bhosle is unwilling to move from his location and will consider the offer only if he is able to get new accommodations at the same location. Bhosle's wife Sumitra is enticed by the offer, but Bhosle remains clear about his terms. This leads to significant tensions at home. The troubles are worsened when Gosalia applies his connections at the city water works and stops water supply to the Bhosale manor.
Bhosle is threatened and confused by these troubles. He attributes them to his Maharashtrian heritage. Late one evening he arrives home drunk and loudly laments his shame and anguish at being born a Maharashtrian. This desperate cry rouses the spirit of Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji Maharaj appears before Bhosle; he is upset and angry that his own descendant is cursing his name. Bhosle breaks down into tears and pours out his grievances. Maharashtra is overrun by outsiders who now control the industries, offices, trades and markets. The Maharashtrian is pushed out into oblivion! Shivaji Maharaj soundly chides him. Why is Bhosle complaining instead of applying his mind and challenging the outsiders? After a long talk, Shivaji Maharaj convinces Bhosle that it is up to him to shake off his fears and hesitation, and take action to resolve his troubles.
Bhosle is heartened by this encounter. He visits the water works manager. Upon discovering that the fellow is on Gosalia's payroll, Bhosle roundly condemns his conduct. He quotes various Maharashtrian proverbs and asks how Maharashtrians can remain proud when it is the very same Maharashtrians who cave to cheap bribes. The manager is ashamed. He restores water. When Gosalia returns with additional bribes, the manager turns him away. Bhosle visits Gidwani (the producer who turned down his daughter's audition) and his boss (who refused to approve a loan to buy a motorbike for his son). He discovers that the producer is, in fact, a Maharashtrian. He takes him to task. The producer admits his folly. Shashikala gets a part in a Marathi film. Using this money, Bhosle secures funds to obtain the motorbike. His boss tries to question him, but Bhosle is able to answer him with conviction and expose his boss's own corruption.
Finally, Bhosle applies a novel strategy to outwit Gosalia. He approaches Mr. Deshmukh, another property developer on his own. The developer studies the matter and approves Bhosle's proposal. Bhosle is able to convince his neighbors to rescind their previous arrangements with Gosalia and accept Bhosle's own proposal. Bhosle also plans to construct a restaurant on some part of the land. For this purpose, he also a big hotel chain owner and offers him a partnership for his new plan. The businessman agrees.
Matters take a turn for the worse. Gosalia is visibly angered. He enlists a thug, Usman, to intimidate and threaten Bhosle. Accordingly, Usman visits Bhosle at home and openly threatens his life unless he agrees to Gosalia's proposal. Bhosle refuses. In retaliation, Usman applies his methods upon the young Rahul. Usman chases Rahul's motorbike to scare him. It goes a bit too far and Rahul is flung from his bike. (Shivaji Maharaj intervenes and pushes Rahul out of the way from an oncoming truck.) Rahul sustains deep injuries and is taken to the hospital. Once confident, Bhosle is now completely shaken by this physical attack upon his family. Shivaji Maharaj visits him yet again. Bhosle expresses his weaknesses; he simply admits that his enemies are too strong. Shivaji Maharaj uplifts his spirits with a rousing rendition of his own moment of truth during the Afzal Khan incident.
Bhosle recovers his wits. He decides to strike his enemy straight in the heart. He visits Usman at home and claims to have abducted and maimed Usman's son. Usman breaks down. Bhosle produces Usman's son, unharmed, and proudly speaks to his Marathi lineage. Usman immediately agrees to leave Bhosle alone forever.
Finally, Bhosle approaches his old friend Nandya again. He chides him for turning away a bright student. Nandya reveals his true colors. The days of politics for helping people have gone. Today's politics is all about money and politicians are about securing and wielding power to obtain more of it. He turns Bhosle out. However, Bhosle has secretly recorded Nandya's outburst. He supplies this expose to the press. Nandya is fired by the party leaders. Nandya conspires with Gosalia and kidnaps Bhosle and his family. Bhosle is reminded of Shivaji Maharaj's daring escape from Aurangzeb's court in Delhi. He employs a similar technique to escape. He goes after Gosalia. Bhosle, armed with a sword, fights off Gosalia's thugs and attacks Gosalia. Gosalia is nearly killed. Bhosle refuses to kill him; instead, Bhosle offers him a chance to reform himself.
Having thus resolved his problems and created a new awareness for proud Maharashtrians in society, Bhosle is commended in media. The party leaders offer him a spot in politics. Bhosle accepts. The film ends with Bhosle gladly returning the sword at the shrine of Shivaji Maharaj.