The 1990s actor had the misfortune of being labelled a Sridevi lookalike and the 'Arey Logon Zara Dekho Yeh Ladka Hai Ya Ladki Hai' song from Prem Qaidi (1991) only made things worse.
Girl or boy? Apt song that questioned Harish Kumar's gender — Prem Qaidi anniversary special
Mumbai - 21 Jun 2017 15:17 IST
Updated : 15:18 IST
Hindi cinema has the tendency to throw up surprises that baffle you, that make you pull your hair in disbelief, or that can have you laughing out loudly.
The year 1991 marked Karisma Kapoor's acting debut. Randhir Kapoor’s older daughter was launched in Prem Qaidi (1991), the Hindi remake of D Rama Naidu’s Telugu film Prema Khaidi (1990).
The film was released on 21 June 1991. While all the media attention was on Karisma, then just 16 years old, Prem Qaidi also introduced us to the phenomenon called Harish Kumar. Kumar was only 15 then.
Kumar had a bigger problem than limited acting ability. He was being compared with reigning star of the time, Sridevi.
He had begun his career as a child artiste in South Indian language films. He also played the young Rajinikanth in Andha Kanoon (1983). He graduated to lead roles in Hindi with K Muralimohana Rao’s Prem Qaidi.
No sooner did the film arrive, than Harish came to be known as the male Sridevi. It did not help that Premi Qaidi itself had a song that effectively questioned his gender — 'Arey Logon Zara Dekho Yeh Ladka Hai Ya Ladki Hai' (Hey, people, is this a boy or a girl).
The song, written by Sameer, was sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy and SP Balasubrahmanyam under the baton of Milind Shrivastav (of Anand-Milind fame). The juvenile lyrics were accompanied on screen by the 1990s-style melodrama that always makes you shake your head in disbelief.
He had the expression of someone who is petrified by the mere presence of Neelima (Karisma). He wouldn’t let her touch him and would jump around like he was electrocuted. It's not clear why the director made him dance in an effeminate manner.
The song begins with Karisma donning a swimming costume and stalking Kumar. The melodrama then shifts to a slide in a garden and from there to a dhobi ghat (open-air laundry). Even as the young couple indulge in their comical dance, the people around are least bothered.
The drama reaches a new level of hilarity as Neelima and Chandra Mohan (as Harish's character is called) end up at a wharf where fresh catch — eels, and crabs — are used as props.
You have to feel for the young artistes. After all, they were teenagers, one of them in her first film. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the film stank. The visuals would have you rolling on the floor. Thankfully, the song comes to a close shortly.
Twenty-six years have passed but Prem Qaidi will forever be remembered for Kumar's comical mannerisms and Karisma’s abundant blessings in the eyebrows department.
Relive your memories of Premi Qaidi and Kumar in the 'Arey Logon Zara Dekho Yeh Ladka Hai Ya Ladki Hai' song: