Pushpa: The Rise – Part 01 is a 2021 Indian Telugu-language action drama film written and directed by Sukumar. It stars Allu Arjun as the titular character alongside Fahadh Faasil (his Telugu debut), and Rashmika Mandanna while Jagadeesh Prathap Bandari, Sunil, Rao Ramesh, Dhananjaya, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Ajay and Ajay Ghosh play supporting roles. It is produced by Mythri Movie Makers in association with Muttamsetty Media. The first of two cinematic parts, the film depicts the rise of a low wage laborer in the smuggling syndicate of red sandalwood, a rare wood that grows only in the Seshachalam Hills of Andhra Pradesh state.
In the 1990s, Pushpa Raj, a laborer, decides to smuggle red sandalwood, a rare wood in high demand that only grows in the Seshachalam Hills of the Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh with his friend sidekick Keshava. When DSP Govindappa and his team raid the forest for apprehending the coolies and seize the stock, Pushpa hides it, gets arrested and brutally beaten for revealing the location of wood. Pushpa’s employer, smuggler Konda Reddy and his brothers bail Pushpa out for the stock’s location and he eventually rises through the ranks by suggesting novel ideas to smuggle the stock earning Konda Reddy’s trust and becoming his 5% partner, while also simultaneously receiving hatred from Konda Reddy’s youngest brother Jolly Reddy.
Known for his cruelty and oppression, Managalam Srinu, Konda Reddy’s boss and a big criminal, manages the syndicate and entrusts Konda Reddy to keep 200 tons of his contraband safe from the Police Department. As Jolly Reddy is deemed incompetent for task, Pushpa is assigned to do the same. Jolly Reddy intentionally delays the export of wood putting Pushpa in a perplexed condition as Govindappa is about to raid the place. Pushpa throws all the logs into a nearby river while Keshava bribes the chief engineer of the neighboring dam to close its gates preventing the logs from flowing and Govindappa gains nothing with the raid for second time. Srinu hosts a party on this occasion and during the festivity, Pushpa overhears the conversation of two people discussing Srinu’s scams and realizes that he sells wood at much higher price than what they are paid. He informs it to Konda Reddy suggesting him to demand a fair share from Srinu but gives up when going against a highly influential Srinu seems risky.
Meanwhile, Pushpa falls in love with a brave and outspoken milk seller Srivalli, who is the daughter of a coolie Muniratnam, who is also indulged in smuggling like Pushpa and eventually, an engagement is arranged for them. During the ceremony, Pushpa’s elder half-brother Mohan creates a scene, condemns Pushpa for using their father’s name to fix his marriage with Srivalli as Pushpa was born out of wedlock to Pushpa’s father and mother Parvatamma, who is not legally married. During the scuffle, Parvatamma is wounded and her miseries motivate Pushpa to make himself, an influential personality. He smuggles the wood directly to Chennai bypassing Srinu and later meets the latter demanding a higher price than what is paid but when rejected and ordered to be beaten, Pushpa revolts, goes to Chennai and cuts deal with the customer Murugan for 1.5 crores per tonne which Konda Reddy and Pushpa agree to share equally. Govindappa detains Muniratnam while smuggling the wood and threatens him to be a mole. Jolly Reddy, who lusts for Srivalli learns about Muniratnam’s deceit and blackmails Srivalli to sleep with him in exchange of her father’s freedom, holding him captive.
Srivalli reveals about this to Pushpa, who furiously beats Jolly Reddy black and blue putting him in a paralyzed state. When Jolly Reddy refuses to reveal about the person behind his condition to his brothers as he wants it to be avenged by himself, Konda Reddy, himself finds that Pushpa is responsible for it. He attempts to murder Pushpa but Srinu’s men led by his brother-in-law Mogileesu attack them and assassinate Konda Reddy. Pushpa rescues Konda Reddy’s younger brother Jakka Reddy rekindling their friendship and murders Mogileesu. MP Bhumireddy Siddappa Naidu arranges a truce between Pushpa and Srinu and after discovering about the latter’s scams, he appoints Pushpa to replace Srinu. As time pass by, Pushpa becomes an influential person while Srinu’s wife Dakshayani injures Srinu berating his inability.
While Pushpa is at his prime, Bhanwar Singh Shekawat, a ruthless Police official takes charge as the district’s SP. Pushpa offers a bribe to Bhanwar for cooperation but the latter ridicules Pushpa for his parents’ story and his motives for that are to make Pushpa call him “sir”. After this incident, Pushpa turns meek and submissive towards Bhanwar, who regularly receives bribes from him. Pushpa, on the day of his marriage spends partying with Bhanwar alone where he converses about the past incident and Bhanwar’s humiliating conduct. Pushpa seizes Bhanwar’s gun and forces him to be semi-naked while he also does the same, intending to explain that he is the same without clothes while Bhanwar is nothing without his uniform and even his pet dog would not identify him. Pushpa returns to the wedding hall while an insulted Bhanwar walks home, semi-naked, and his dog fails to identify him without uniform. Enraged, Bhanwar kills the dog and burns the bribe sent by Pushpa, swearing revenge while Pushpa marries Srivalli, telling the latter that the actual story has begun.
Directed by Sukumar
Written by Sukumar
Produced by Naveen Yerneni & Y. Ravi Shankar
Starring Allu Arjun, Fahadh Faasil, Rashmika Mandanna
Cinematography Mirosław Kuba Brożek
Edited by Karthika Srinivas & Ruben
Music by Devi Sri Prasad
Production Mythri Movie Makers & Muttamsetty Media
Distributed by Lyca Productions and Sri Lakshmi Movies (Tamil Nadu)
Release date 17 December 2021
Running time 179 minutes