Besides the journey of Tomppa and Krisu, the main characters of the film, Rööperi tells the story of Gypsy Kari, Arska, Bisquit, Uki and a bunch of other bad boys and criminals; it tells of their memorable and unscrupulous journey from crime and poverty to becoming respectable citizens, going to jail—or dying too young. The wrong side of the law is seen through the eyes of Koistinen, a local police officer.
The guys who fall into a life of crime have one thing in common: they all start by bootlegging, being sure money is an answer to all their problems. Money is a way out of a miserable life; it is a way to happiness and their modest dreams. They can stop doing criminal business as soon as they get enough money.
When the guys start making more money with black-market booze, their hunger and their dreams grow bigger.