Zomato deletes ‘Kachra’ campaign video after facing backlash from netizens over caste row

By | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
Jun 08, 2023 04:17 PM IST

In response to the criticism, Zomato issued an official statement saying that they had no intention of hurting the sentiments of anyone.

Zomato took down a video from YouTube and other social media platforms on Thursday following widespread backlash for caste discrimination from netizens regarding its “Kachra ad campaign”. The food delivery platform released the campaign on June 5, World Environment Day, and the advertisement featured actor Aditya Lakhia, known for his role as “Kachra” in the 2001 movie Lagaan.

Zomato said the intention of the ad was to raise awareness about "recycling plastic waste".(Reuters)
Zomato said the intention of the ad was to raise awareness about "recycling plastic waste".(Reuters)

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In response to the criticism, Zomato issued an official statement, saying that they had no intention of hurting the sentiments of any communities or individuals. They clarified that the campaign was solely intended to raise awareness about “recycling plastic waste” on World Environment Day. Zomato concluded its statement by confirming the removal of the video.

What did the ad feature?

Zomato's “#KachraBhiKhelega” campaign aimed to promote the recycling of plastic waste, highlighting the company's claim of having already recycled 20 million kg of plastic. The advertisement featured the actor transforming into various everyday objects like a stool, lamp, and hand towel, with a mention of the amount of plastic used in their production. The video emphasised the quantity of plastic recycled to create these objects.

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The intention of the video was to convey that Zomato recycles twice the amount of plastic it delivers, effectively diverting it from ending up in landfills. The ad says that with recycling, “Kachra” (referring to plastic waste) can be transformed into various useful items.

Why the backlash?

The video titled “Zomato recycles Kachra feat. Kachra as Kachra” showcased actor Aditya Lakhia portraying the character of “Kachra” that he played in the 2001 movie Lagaan, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. In the film, the character “Kachra” represented an individual from a lower caste background and faced ridicule based on his identity.

The internet was filled with intense discussions and reactions as many drew parallels between the ad campaign and the portrayal of the character “Kachra” in the 2001 film Lagaan. The connection was made due to the campaign's use of the same name and the potential association with the marginalised character in the movie.

Reactions to the ad campaign

Filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan shared the video of Zomato's “Kachra campaign” and expressed his discontent, saying, “#Kachra from #Lagaan was one of the most dehumanised voiceless depictions of Dalits ever in cinema. Zomato has used the same character and made a repulsive #casteist commercial. A human stool? Are you serious? Extremely insensitive!” Ghaywan also shared screen grabs from the campaign to support his criticism.

A user voiced his discomfort with the ad saying, “Usually, I'm a big fan of Zomato's marketing, mostly done in-house. But their new ad film, made for World Environment Day, made for an uncomfortable watch, at least for me - your mileage may vary. I understand the intent: to use the 'Kachra' character from Lagaan for his name. Even if he is performing them figuratively, as 'waste' and not his Lagaan character per se—made me uncomfortable while I was watching the ad.”

Some users speculated that the controversial ad might have been intentional. One user wrote, “Casteist idea by Zomato to make an advertisement and humiliate a marginalised character ‘Kachra’.”

In response to the harsh reactions from users, Zomato addressed the backlash by tweeting about the removal of the video.

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