Viral Now: Kodaikanal confronts Unilever, Nicki Minaj style

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital
Last updated : August 05, 2015
A Chennai-based rapper Sofia Ashraf raps about toxic waste dumping by Unilever in Kodaikanal and the world is taking note.

It is a no-brainer that young India croons to the songs belted out by new age rappers like Yo Yo Honey Singh and Raftaar, but ever thought a rap song can actually promote a social cause? 'Kodaikanal Won't', a song written and performed by Chennai-based rapper Sofia Ashraf and directed by Rathindran R Prasad has gone viral. The song, created by public mobilisation group, ex-mercury workers association and the Chennai Solidarity Group, questions Unilever's CEO Paul Polman's silence on his company's mercury contamination in Kodaikanal.

The video opens with a message, giving viewers the background. It reads 'Unilever dumped toxic mercury in Kodaikanal, poisoning its workers and the forest. In the past 14 years, Unilever has done nothing to clean up the contamination and compensate its workers and their families, despite talking a big game about social responsibility'.

The peppy video, inspired by popular international rap artiste Nicki Minaj's song 'Anaconda', features Sofia Ashraf belting out lines such as these - 'Kodaikanal won't step down until you make amends now'. The rap goes on to describe Kodaikanal's reputation as the princess of hill stations and how Unilever's thermometer factory set up in the region has devastated not just the flora and fauna, but also the lives of people inhabiting the place. The singer thumps repeatedly 'Unilever clean up your mess', as hordes of demonstrators join her in the fight for justice.

The video, posted on July 30, has already crossed the one million mark. It has been widely shared and talked about over social media with celebrities like Nandita Das, Varun Grover and Vishal Dadlani sharing it. It even got a word of appreciation from the international rap sensation Nicki Minaj herself.

As per, the accompanying petition has surged to over 12,000 signers so far. One can join the campaign by visiting or leave a missed call on 8880109020.

Unilever's Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Unilever, too, has yet to respond to the issue. However, the company has a dedicated page on its official website highlighting the break-down of the entire case from Unilever's perspective.

First Published : August 05, 2015
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