Chiranjeevi’s Apadbandhavudu is Telugu cinema's most expensive flop in a purely artistic sense because the film's failure ensured that the megastar never ventured into films that don’t continuously deify him.
When experimental films flop, cinephiles hold grudges against general audiences for not appreciating a film's complexity but rather choosing to evaluate its ability to churn out blockbuster moments.
The film narrates a simple love story between a shepherd belonging to an oppressed caste, Madhava, who falls in love with Hema, a girl from an oppressor caste.
Chiranjeevi was hailed by Tamil director K Balachander as the perfect mix of Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth i.e. the perfect mix of art and mainstream. But after the flop of Aapadbandhavudu, Chiranjeevi killed his metaphorical “Kamal Hassan” and only fed the “Rajnikanth” in him.
Fantasizing about the films that Chiranjeevi would have made had Aapadbandhavudu tasted even moderate financial success in Telugu becomes a near-romantic exercise.