Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former amateur wrestler and national champion based in Balali, a village in Haryana. He was forced by his father to give up the sport in order to obtain gainful employment. Dejected that he could not win a medal for his country, he vows that his unborn son will. Disappointed upon having four daughters starting 1988, he gives up the hope. But when his older daughters Geeta and Babita come home after beating up two boys one day in response to derogatory comments, he realises their potential to become wrestlers and begins coaching them.
His methods seem harsh, including grueling early morning workouts and short haircuts to avoid lice. Despite facing backlash from the villagers, he goes ahead with them, training them in his makeshift mud pit. Initially, the girls resent their father for his treatment but soon realise that he wants them to have a good future and not grow up to be stereotypical housewives. Motivated, they willingly participate in his coaching. Mahavir takes the girls to wrestling tournaments where they wrestle boys and defeat them, much to everyone’s utter surprise. Unable to afford wrestling mats, he now uses two layers of mattresses in its place and trains them in freestyle wrestling to prepare them for competitive events. Geeta goes on to win the junior championships at the State- and national-level, and subsequently the national senior championship, before heading to an National Sports Academy, an institute in Patiala to train for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.