Lagaan actor Aditya Lakhia on backlash to Zomato's 'Kachra' ad: 'Abhi controversy ho gayi hai toh ho gayi hai'

Jun 09, 2023 10:06 AM IST

Lagaan's Aditya Lakhia, who portrayed the character of Kachra in the 2001 movie, addressed the controversy around his now-deleted Zomato ad.

The 'Zomato Recycles Kachra' campaign featuring Aditya Lakhia, the actor who portrayed Kachra in the Aamir Khan-starrer Lagaan, was slammed by social media users, and termed ‘tone-deaf’. Now, Aditya has opened up about the 'controversy' around the ad. Reacting to the backlash to the ad, Aditya said that 'if it has hurt a section of people and if an apology is required then he’ll give it'. Also read: Neeraj Ghaywan reacts to Zomato’s commercial feat Lagaan’s Kachra

Aditya Lakhia in the Zomato ad, which has now been taken down.
Aditya Lakhia in the Zomato ad, which has now been taken down.

The now-deleted video had Aditya Lakhia, reprising his character Kachra from Lagaan (2001), showcasing the importance of recycling of kachra (garbage). Aditya said they 'tried to do something positive' with the ad campaign, but it backfired.

Aditya Lakhia reacts to Zomato 'controversy'

Aditya Lakhia told News18, “It’s banned toh it’s banned. Ab kya kar sakte hai (what can we do now)? It was supposed to be a positive concept, the way we all looked at it was Kachra promoting anti-plastic and to recycle garbage. But it took another turn. It became controversial so now it’s banned. That’s it. I don’t want to say anything further. We tried to do something positive and it just took another turn which we didn’t know it would... I did not anticipate something like this. None of us did. Abhi controversy ho gaya hai toh ho gaya hai (Now there has been controversy, nothing can be done about it). Now, Zomato has pulled it out also and they clarified. I would also say that if it has hurt a section of people and if an apology is required then I’ll give it. As an actor, what can I say."

Aditya says he will think twice before signing an ad now

“I was approached about 10 days back. It was a campaign, it was not for any money. So it was a positive campaign which obviously backfired. It was not meant to backfire... Now I’ll think twice before (signing an ad). (Advertisers) should put me as Aditya, and not as Kachra. It can take a different turn altogether. I mean it would be okay if Kachra promotes a soft drink but it is not okay if Kachra says no to plastic. There is a thin line," the actor said in the same interview.

Zomato deletes ‘Kachra’ ad after facing backlash

The food delivery platform had released the ad campaign on June 5, World Environment Day, and the advertisement featured Aditya Lakhia, known for playing Kachra in Lagaan. Zomato also issued an apology on Twitter after it took down the video from YouTube and other social media platforms on Thursday following widespread backlash.

“On World Environment Day, our intent was to spread awareness about the potential of plastic waste and benefits of recycling in a humorous way. Unintentionally, we may have hurt the sentiments of certain communities and individuals. We have taken down the video,” Zomato tweeted.

Neeraj Ghaywan slams Zomato’s commercial

On Thursday, filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan slammed the video campaign released by Zomato, calling it 'extremely insensitive'. Neeraj told Hindustan Times in an interview that the Kachra ad 'inadvertently normalises casteism'.

He said, “It is even more insensitive in using this character to make a ‘funny’ commercial about sustainable recycling. It ends up being tone-deaf to depict the character as a human footstool and various objects. It literally dehumanises by way of straight up objectifying. Companies need to have an inclusivity orientation.”

Social media reactions to the ad

The Zomato campaign faced backlash on social media, with users terming it ‘tone-deaf.’ A person said, "The Zomato ad is intentional – the protagonist is being reduced to a recycled object. Including being used as a stool and napkin. The execs who approved this were approving his dehumanisation as some punchline." One more tweeted, “Casteist idea by Zomato to make advertisement and humiliate a marginalised character Kachra.”

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