Set against the backdrop of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, ?The Rising? tells the tale of a heroic sepoy who spearheaded the movement that later became the struggle for Indian freedom from the colonial British.
Through a colorful ensemble of characters, the movie tells the tale of friendship, love, betrayal and mutiny. It is the story of friends, lovers, enemies ? story of exploiters and the exploited.
The protagonist of the film is sepoy Mangal Pandey (Aamir) who saves the life of a British commanding officer William Gordon (Toby Stephens) in a fierce battle in the Afghan wars of the mid 19th century. Despite the difference in their rank, Mangal and Gordon become good friends.
Their friendship is tested with the arrival of a charming and beautiful young aristocrat, Emily Kent. In the meantime, Gordon saves a beautiful young native girl, Jwala (Amisha), from the funeral pyre of her late husband, and falls in love with her.
Differences arise between Mangal Pandey and Gordon when the controversial new gun cartridges are introduced in the infantry of which Mangal is a part. The new cartridges require soldiers to bite through their greased casing, made of animal fat. And the Indian soldiers in the infantry refuse to use them.
Gordon assures Pandey that the cartridges have no animal fat, but the truth turns out to be the opposite.
Mangal Pandey leads a mutiny against the British, thereby setting off a wave for India?s freedom from its imperialist rulers.