he film begins in 1857, when India was ruled by the British East India Company. Mangal Pandey (Aamir Khan) is a sepoy, a soldier of Indian origin, in the army of the East India Company. Pandey is fighting in the Anglo-Afghan Wars and saves the life of his British commanding officer, William Gordon (portrayed by Toby Stephens). Gordon is indebted to Pandey and a strong friendship develops between them, transcending both rank and race.

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