Zomato Gets Trolled For Its ‘Kachra’ Campaign, Deletes Ad After Being Called Out On Twitter

New Delhi: Food delivery app Zomato came under fire for its recent ad campaign that aimed to raise awareness against food wastage. The advertisement, on the occasion of World Environment Day, drew an analogy of kachra, which means ‘garbage’ in Hindi with a character from the 2001 film ‘Lagaan’, who had the same name. Following this ad campaign, Zomato has been slammed for its casteist overtones and eventually, the food delivery platform had to delete it.

The ad showed how waste can be recycled to make different household objects. And, to show trash’s use in the literal sense, the advertisement showed the human Kachra acting as recycled waste. We see Lakhia pose as a human stool and then cling on to a wall hook like a towel with a man even cleaning his nose on Lakhia’s sleeve.

Towards the end of the commercial, Zomato boasted that the company had recycled 20 million kg of plastic waste so far and then added a hashtag titled “#KachraBhiKhelega”.

Speaking of the character ‘Kachra’ in the movie ‘Lagaan’, he was a member of the downtrodden section of society. Being an untouchable, he wasn’t allowed to be a part of the Indian cricket team. ‘Bhuvan’ played by Aamir Khan then vouched for him and included ‘Kachra’ in the team.

After Zomato published the ad campaign, people took to Twitter to criticise the food delivery app for not paying attention to the casteist repercussions that can happen by comparing a member of an underrepresented group to trash.

National Award-winning director Neeraj Ghaywan was among those who lashed out at Zomato for the campaign. “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!” wrote Ghaywan, whose film Masaan has been praised for its searing yet sensitive portrayal of caste issues in India.

He further shared some screengrabs from the commercial in his tweet thread.

Madhureeta Anand took to the comments section of Ghaywan’s tweet and wrote, “That is just so offensive. One has to wonder who these people are who created the advert, approved it and put it online without once thinking about it.”

A Twitter user by the name ‘Karthik’ also wrote, “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 and signify that as ‘waste—denoted by kachra, in meaning, and by Kachra, the character—being recycled’. But there’s a context to Kachra’s character in Lagaan, and within the larger spectrum of commercial entertainment in India.”

Reacting to the trolls, Zomato deleted the ad campaign and posted an official message on Twitter. The food delivery chain said, “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.”

Netizens were still disappointed as there was no mention of a ‘sorry’ by Zomato in its post and demanded an apology in the comments section.