Set in Fatehpur, Gujarat, we are introduced to Raees Alam as a small kid who serves as a runner for a bootlegger. At school, he has trouble reading the board and is prescibed a pair of spectacles by their neighbourhood doctor. But mind you, our boy has a warning for all- ‘Battery nahi bolneka saala’. Pretty soon, he receives a life-changing advice from his ammi when she steps in to save him from a cop during a liquor raid. The cop ridicules her of being a ragpicker to which she tells him- “Koi dhanda chhota ya bada nahi hota, aur dhande se bada koi dharm nahin hota.” These words leave a lasting impression on Raees who decides to jump straight into the business of liquor with his friend Sadiq by his side. Soon he ends up being alcohol kingpin Jayaraj Seth’s (Atul Kulkarni) right hand after the latter comes across his ‘baniye ka dimaag aur miyanbhai ki daring’.
Years pass by, a grown up, kohl-eyed Raees (Shahrukh Khan) is determined to set up his own business. His best friend Sadiq (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayab) is now his Man Friday. Soon, Raees becomes a boss of his own empire. He greases cops, politicians and everybody in the middle to get his things done. At the same time, he is a desi Robinhood for the people in his mohallah and never hesitates to lend a helping hand.
However, the fiercely ambitious man meets his match when Inspector Jaideep Majumdar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) gets transferred to Raees’ land.. A no nonsense, rule abiding cop, Majumdar’s only aim is to wipe away the bootlegging business and reduce Raees’ empire to ashes. At one point, you hear him saying, Raees ka aur mera rishta bada ajeeb hai … paas reh nahi sakta aur saala door jaane nahi deta’. What follows next is a cat-and-mouse game between the two with each trying to outdo the other.