Tradition is a rule in many villages in India. One such village has a tradition that if there is a duel then each man has one bullet in their pistol only. Whoever shoots their opponent first is the winner.
Thakur Bhavani Singh (Sunil Dutt) is a wealthy man, respected by all. When his son Thakur Prithvi Singh (Vinod Khanna) returns from London he meets Tara (Ramya Krishna) who is the daughter of Shankar (Anupam Kher). Shankar had previously dueled with Bhavani and had lost and died. Shankar has a son Gora Shankar also played by Anupam Kher who becomes firm friends with Prithvi Singh.
Prithvi and Tara connect instantly and they both fall in love with each other. When Bhavani finds out he quickly arranges Prithvi to marry Rajeshwari (Ashwini Bhave). Confused he ends up marrying both Tara and Rajeshwari. Tara gives birth to a son Ranbir (played by Aamir Khan). Bhavani is livid and leads a raid on Tara's village, killing her and a few other people. Rajeshwari saves Ranbir and brings him home.Gora Shankar threatens Bhavani and is put into jail. Many years pass and Rajeshshwari gives birth to a son, Pratap Prithvi Singh (played by Saif Ali Khan). The two boys are brought up by Prithvi and Rajeshwari until Gora Shankar is released from jail. Shankar enraged by the death of his tribe challenges Bhavani for a duel, but Prithvi takes his father's place and is killed as he doesn't put a bullet in his own gun, letting Gora Shankar win. Rajeshwari along with Bhavani raise Pratap together. Shankar raises Ranbir alone but both sons are told by their relatives the tradition of the duel. Both Ranbir and Pratap attend the same college with their girlfriends Vijaya and Sapna (Raveena Tandon and Neelam Kothari). The four quickly become friends but they both find out each other's past.