Vetrivel alias Velu (Vijay) is a car racer who lives with his large family in Chennai. His father, Singamuthu (Manivannan), had gone to Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh to work at a colliery and never returned, prompting Velu and his family to think that he is dead. Velu comes to know that a Malaysia-based don named Koccha (Suman) owes his father a huge sum of money. Velu and his friend Ops (Vivek) travel to Malaysia as Kuruvi, the trade jargon for low-level contraband carriers. They come to Malaysia at a time when internal rivalry and problems are surfacing in Koccha's family. Koccha's younger sister Devi (Trisha Krishnan) has refused to marry Soori (Pawan), the brother of Konda Reddy (Ashish Vidyarthi), Koccha's Kadapa-based business associate, as per Koccha's wishes. Irritated and preoccupied, neither Koccha nor his henchmen want to devote any time or attention to resolve Velu's problem. Velu is ill-treated and thrown out of Koccha's place without any help rendered. Determined to return to India only after his father's issue is solved to his satisfaction, Velu conceals himself in Koccha's palace-like residence. He soon finds out about a large diamond owned by Koccha and steals it, feeling that it would pay off his father's debt, and returns to India with Ops. Devi also follows Velu to India, having fallen in love with him, when he saves her from falling from a tall building during New Year's Eve.
Knowing that Velu has stolen his diamond, Koccha and his gang visit Velu's house and threaten his family with dire consequences unless Velu returns the diamond. After confronting Koccha, Velu comes to know that his father isn't dead, but is being held as bonded labour along with many innocent people at Kadapa. Singamuthu had discovered diamonds at the colliery, but refused to allow Koccha and Konda Reddy to illegally mine the diamonds for their own benefit. He had been held prisoner in Kadapa since.
Velu immediately leaves for Kadapa, where he encounters Koccha again. He throws him onto a moving train, paralysing him. He soon discovers a slave camp run by Koccha and Konda Reddy at the colliery, where a womanising rowdy named Kadapa Raja (G. V. Sudhakar Naidu) is torturing the inmates, including Singamuthu. He single-handedly takes on Konda Reddy, Kadapa Raja and their henchmen, killing them all. He drags Konda Reddy's dead body to Koccha's mansion. The wheelchair-bound Koccha, on seeing the dead body of his associate, recovers and attempts to shoot Velu, only to be arrested at that moment by a special task force led by Raj (Nassar). Singamuthu and the others who were imprisoned in the slave camp are finally freed and reunited with their families.
It was announced in 2007 that Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of M. K. Stalin and grandson of Tamil Nadu Chief minister M. Karunanidhi announced that he would produce films under his production banner Red Giant Movies. The film marks the comeback of Dharani and the announced project titled "Kuruvi" would more or less feature same cast and crew of director's previous film Ghilli. It was rumoured that "Kuruvi" was titled because lead hero was named as Guru V which proved false. Kuruvi or Pura is used as a code word for illegal immigrants.
Vidya Balan and Nayanthara were first approached to be heroines of the film. Trisha was selected to pair with Vijay for fourth time. Vadivelu was initially approached for the film but he was replaced by Vivek.
A stunt scene was picturised with Vijay taking on few men who belong to the African mafia in a huge bar-cum-disco set erected for this purpose. In Kuruvi, the director has used a chopper to shoot an entire song sequence to give it a feel of grandeur. Huge set was erected at MGR film city for major portion of the film. The team had even erected another set nearby in Sriperumbudur for shooting a song sequence, which features some models from Bangalore and Mumbai. Sadly, rain seems to have played spoilsport, which held up the shooting for two days – by the time the call sheet of the models ended. A fight was picturised at AVM Studios with a grand set resembling a bar.
The soundtrack is composed by Vidyasagar. Kuruvi’s audio launch was held at the Little Flower Convent on 16 April 2008 in Chennai sans the usual fanfare despite the buzz surrounding the movie. The low key affair, held in the school for hearing and speech impaired, witnessed minimal star participation. As a novel attempt, the audio was Kuruvi released to senior journalists from renowned dailies like Daily Thanthi and The Hindu. Gangadaran from Daily Thanthi and S.R. Ashokkumar from The Hindu released the album to the students of the academy. Representatives from other media houses like Sun TV also participated in the event. Vijay and Sangeetha, Vikram, Vishal, Trisha, producer Udhayanithi and his wife, and director Dharani are the other celebrities spotted at the event. Behindwoods wrote:"Vidyasagar seems to have reinvented himself as a fairly noisy composer here! The metallic twang that accompanies the songs is not too pleasant. Maybe the plot calls for such treatment, but you come away wondering whether Vidyasagar heartily relished doing this". Rediff wrote:"Vidyasagar music has sheen no soul". Millblog wrote:"Kuruvi is no Gilli, but does have its own quirky charm". The song "Mozha Mozhannu" created controversy because the name of freedom fighter "Thillaiyadi Valliyamma" was mentioned in the song.
Behindwoods rated the movie with 2.5 out of 5 stars and called "If you go to see Kuruvi with lowered expectations, you may end up liking it. But those who are looking for big build-up sequences and large Ghilli-like payoffs – stay away.". Sify wrote:"To give Dharani his due, Kuruvi is watchable in parts, for die-hard fans of Vijay. For ordinary viewers, the film lacks a basic story and stretches ones patience for nearly three hours". Rediff wrote:"Kuruvi's got everything to appeal to Vijay fans – but Dharani the director is lost in this melee of fist-fights and elementary comedy". Indiaglitz wrote:"Kuruvi, a racy thriller loaded with romance and action, is a sure treat for Vijay fans". Hindu wrote:"Kuruvi tries its best to fly high, only that the effort isn’t enough because earlier Ghilli had soared much higher. Of course, Dharani keeps up the momentum and things move fast to the midway point".