Campaign demands Kannada songs at KFC

Campaign demands Kannada songs at KFC

About 30,000 tweet in support of the demand even as activist groups visit outlets with the request

A screengrab of the video that surfaced on Saturday.

Fast-food chain KFC has kicked up a language row in Karnataka by refusing to play Kannada songs at one of its outlets.

Netizens hit back by launching #RejectKFC, #StopHindiimposition and #ServeInMyLanguage campaigns since a video of the incident went viral this week. Offline protests have also begun.

About 30,000 people have tweeted in support of the campaign.

Members of Karunadu Yodharu went to a KFC outlet in Indiranagar to demand an explanation recently. We need time, a representative told them in response.

Raghu MP, a member of Karunadu Yodharu, says the group is not against other languages — it just wants the same respect to be shown to Kannada too. “Every time you visit such outlets, you only get to hear English or Hindi songs. All we are asking them is to include Kannada songs,” he explains.

Similarly, leaders of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike are visiting KFC outlets across the state and demanding the inclusion of songs in Kannada. Arun Javagal, state secretary, says the online campaigns weren’t orchestrated by a group or person and is proof that people are fed up with the injustice meted out to their language. “It was organic. People who love Kannada were the ones who raised their voice,” he says.

The recent furore over a Zomato employee’s remark that “Hindi is our national language” has also encouraged Kannadigas to call out the Hindi imposition, he feels.

Respect language sentiments, says activist Ganesh Chetan, prominent among those who campaigned successfully against the informal ban on dubbing of films into Kannada. “Customers are demanding services in their language and this includes ambience, music, signage. The incident shows disrespect towards customers’ sentiments and demands,” he says.

What happened?

On Saturday, the video of a KFC staffer in Karnataka turning down a customer’s request to play Kannada songs instead of Hindi songs surfaced on Twitter. The staffer defends his decision saying “Hindi is our national language” and that they play the same songs in other outlets up north. Another staff asks the customer why she is creating a fuss. 

“I have immense respect and pride for my language,” the Kannadiga customer shoots back.

Hindi is designated one of two official languages of the union government and India has 22 national languages.