The movie starts in the late 1980s when a group of friends celebrate their farewell party. They promise each other to keep in touch. Among them are Hanumantha Rao (Prabhu Ganesan), who has a son named Prabha (Prabhas), and Vishwanath (Ahuti Prasad) who has a daughter Nandini (Kajal Agarwal). To reach their professional goals, Vishwanath and Nandini travel to Switzerland, while Hanumantha Rao becomes a criminal lawyer and settles in India. Thus, Prabha and Nandini get separated in their childhood.
Years later, these old friends call for a reunion where a grown-up Prabha is eager to see his lover Nandini, but Nisha (Shraddha Das), the daughter of a local don (Mukesh Rishi), attempts suicide when Prabha doesn't accept her love. Her father tries to kill Prabha and his friends, but Prabha gets out of trouble by faking a story about his childhood love Nandini.
During the reunion at Bhadram's (Chandra Mohan) farmhouse, Prabha happens to see Nandini. He tries various tantrums to impress her, but in vain. His attempts are always thwarted by her brother. One day, he knowingly gives a lead about his sister's favorite game of basketball, forcing Prabha and his team to create a basketball court. As they play basketball, in comes Rishi (Vamsi Krishna), as Appala Raju's (M. S. Narayana) son, who gatecrashes into the game as he is cheered by Nandini. Both Rishi and Prabha vie with each other to impress Nandini, leading to a cold war between them.
Meanwhile, Prasanna, Bhadram's daughter, confesses to Prabha that she was in love with a man and she would marry him if she could pay a dowry of 5 million, and she forces Prabha to talk to her father into marrying off her to her boyfriend. Prabha is able to convince Bhadram about his daughter's marriage with the help of his father and his friends. Impressed by his managing skills, Nandini begins to show affection to Prabha. Jealous of Nandini's liking for Prabha, Rishi's friends try to paralyse Prabha by misconnecting the power cable of an iron box. Hanumantha Rao, unaware of their conspiracy, accidentally touches the iron box and gets an electric shock, leading to a scuffle between Prabha and Rishi. The fight results in Hanumantha Rao ejecting Prabha out of the house.
Later, Prabha finds out that Rishi is not Appala Raju's son, but Vishwanath's nephew. Vishwanath betrayed his father (Kota Srinivasa Rao) by marrying his girlfriend rather than the girl chosen by his father. As a result, he is ousted by his father. Hanumantha Rao, on Viswanath's behalf, negotiates with his father for a reconciliation. After many attempts, he agrees to forgive Viswanath, but on the condition that his daughter's son should marry Nandini.
Prabha decides not to reveal his love for Nandini and makes up his mind to leave. As Prabha tries to leave, Nandini reveals that she is in love with him all along. She was playing hard to get with Prabha only to know how much he loves her. But to save his father's reputation, he doesn't reveal his love to her and leaves the place leaving Nandini heartbroken. Nisha's father too realizes the truth that the story that Prabha had said was a lie, and tries to kill Prabha. Meanwhile, Nandini gets to know the truth behind Prabha's silence and convinces her father that she loves Prabha and he should get her married to Prabha. Prabha is rescued from Nisha's father in time by Nandini, who urges Nisha's father to spare Prabha as both of them love each other. The film ends with Prabha and Nandini getting married.Prabhas as Prabhaskar aka Prabha/PrabhasKajal Aggarwal as NandiniShraddha Das as NishaPrabhu Ganesan as Hanumanta RaoChandra Mohan as BhadramTulasi as RajeshwariMukesh Rishi as Nisha's fatherAhuti Prasad as VishwanathKota Srinivasa Rao as Vishwanath's fatherDharmavarapu Subrahmanyam as BuchchaiahM. S. Narayana as Appala RajuVamsi Krishna as RishiSrinivasa Reddy as Prabhas' friendPrabhas Srinu as Prabhas' friendSivannarayana Peddi as Hanumanta Rao's friendNarsing YadavMaster Gaurav as Nandini's younger brotherRussell Geoffrey Banks as KidnapperDavid FirestarAlex Martin
The film opened to positive reviews. The Times of India gave a two and half star rating explaining "Director Karunakaran extracts good performances from his actors, but can't come up with a refreshing plot. It looks like the director hasn't really come out of his Tholi Prema hangover as he dishes out yet another one-sided love saga but fails to come up with a valid and logical reason to make a Gen Z lad to hold back his feelings for his lover until the last moment. However, he compensates it all, by adding loads of fun moments in the film and the screenplay does have its share of some touching moments". Sify noted "Prabhas looked very handsome and his performance can be termed as the major highlight of the film". Rediff felt that the film "is entertaining" and lauded the director for "showcasing clean wholesome family entertainment". Local review sites GreatAndhra and Idlebrain both gave a three star rating and praised the actors performance and technical works of the film.
The film had its audio release function on 8 April at Cyber Gardens, Hyderabad. The audio function was attended by Prabhas, Allu Arjun, Ravi Teja, Kajal Aggarwal, Puri Jagannadh, V. V. Vinayak, S. S. Rajamouli, Boyapati Srinu, Dil Raju, Meher Ramesh, A. Karunakaran, B. V. S. N. Prasad, Krishnam Raju, Sravanti Ravi Kishore, Shyam Prasad Reddy, Gemini Kiran, Aditya Babu, Andrews, G. V. Prakash Kumar, Supreme Raju, Parachuri Prasad, Nallamalapu Bujji, Ananth Sreeram, etc.
The programme started off with a cake cutting on the occasion of Allu Arjun and Ananth Sreeram's birthday. Later the audio was released by all the directors and the first copy of it was received by all heroes who attended the function. The audio was well Received by the Public.The film was released in 800 theaters worldwide
Darling movie was remade in Kannada as Bulbul starring Darshan, Ambareesh, Ramya Barna, Rachita Ram and directed by M.D Shridhar and Produced by Meena Thoogudeepa.