The National Commission For Scheduled Castes on Monday issued a notice to food delivery company Zomato for its advertisement that depicted the Dalit character named “Kachra” in the Hindi film Lagaan as items made of recycled waste.
Zomato took down the advertisement on Thursday, saying that its aim was to show the company’s effort in recycling. “Unintentionally, we may have hurt the sentiments of certain communities and individuals,” the company had said.
The advertisement drew a connection between the character and the Hindi word for garbage. It showed actor Aditya Lakhia, who played the character in the film, as a lamp, paper, paperweight and watering can, along with a text detailing how much recycled “kachra” was used to make each item. The advertisement had been uploaded on YouTube on World Environment Day on June 5.
In the notice sent to Zomato founder and Chief Executive Officer Deepinder Goyal, the Scheduled Castes panel said that it has taken cognisance of the matter and will investigate it further. Zomato has been asked to file its response to the notice
“In case the commission does not receive a reply from you within stipulated time, the commission may issue summons for your appearance in person,” the notice said. The commission has has also sought responses from the Delhi Police and YouTube
Several users on social media, including film director Neeraj Ghaywan, had criticised the advertisement for being casteist and inhumane.
“Kachra from Lagaan was one of the most dehumanised voiceless depictions of Dalits ever in cinema,” Ghaywan had said in a tweet. “Zomato used the same character and made a repulsive casteist commercial. A human stool? Are you serious? Extremely insensitive!”