Murugan (Mohanlal) lives in Puliyoor, a small forest village that is vulnerable to man-eating tigers— called Varayan Puli (striped leopard) by the villagers—and frequent human–wildlife conflicts. When he was young, Murugan’s mother died after his brother Manikuttan was born. Soon after, his father was kiled by tiger; in vengeance, Murugan traps and kills the tiger with the help of his uncle Balaraman.
Years later, Murugan is a lorry driver, has married Myna (Kamalini Mukherjee), and has a daughter, Chakki. He hunts and kills rogue tigers whenever they invade the village. Acknowledging his skills in hunting Varayan Puli, the villagers call him Pulimurugan (Leopard-Murugan). Murugan is grateful to the villagers who cared for him after his parents’ deaths, and is obsessively protective of Manikuttan, who is about to finish his MBA graduation in Mangalore.