Being son of Prithviraj Kapoor and brother of "showman" Raj Kapoor was not easy to carve a niche for Shammi. When he embarked upon his acting career, he had to live up to a lot of expectations.
Shammi was aware that comparisons will be drawn because his brother was already an established superstar and an acclaimed filmmaker. He knew that if he needed to make a mark, he should be as different from his brother as possible.
However, making his debut in 1953, Shammi's initial film portrayed him as nothing more than a mere shadow of his brother Raj.
Films like Rail Ka Dibba, Chor Bazaar, Shama Parvana, Hum Sab Chor Hain, Memsaheb and Miss Coca Cola had Shammi in a completely different get-up, especially his hairdo, his moustache, and even his on-screen antics resembled to those of Raj Kapoor to a considerable extent.
It was only in 1957, with Nasir Hussain's Tumsa Nahin Dekha, that the actor finally tasted success.
He sported a new look sans whiskers on the lines of the contemporary Hollywood greats like Elvis Presley and James Dean; and a star was born.
Shammi often discussed with his friends on how best to present himself, especially when his flicks bombed at the box office one after another.
Bunny Ruben came up with the title rebel star, struggling to make a space against the reigning trio of Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar.
'Tumsa Nahin Dekha' was also Nasir Hussain's directorial debut and its success prompted the Nasir-Shammi pair to follow up with several blockbusters. One of the main highlights of the film was its foot-tapping music, and boisterous, smooth and easy dancing style of Shammi that gained immense popularity and literally became his trademark over the years.
Incidentally, Shammi was happily married to well known actress Geeta Bali even before he became a star. And his marriage didn't affect his popularity even a bit.
But unfortunately for him, Geeta Bali passed away too soon due to illness.
In 1959, the Nasir-Shammi combination delivered yet another superhit, Dil Deke Dekho which was also the launching pad for Asha Parekh. Shammi never looked back ever since. He finally hit big time in 1961 with the all-time classic, one of his most popular films till date — Junglee- directed by Subodh Mukherjee.
The film also attains significance for giving him the image of 'The Yahoo Yuppie'. Junglee regarded as a 'cult classic' was incidentally one of the first romantic films to be made in colour.
Shammi's persona as a fun-loving, boisterous, romantic and rebellious hero worked very well and contributed to the success of many of his movies including China Town, Dil Tera Deewana and Professor.
Aware of the kind of hysteria he generated among the youth, most of his films were hero-centric and youth-oriented.
Filmmakers would cast new heroine opposite him to add freshness to the film. Some of the prominent ladies who made their debuts against Shammi later went on to become stars like Asha Parekh, Saira Banu and Sharmila Tagore.
The Nasir-Shammi combination struck gold at the box-office with Teesri Manzil, one of the most unforgettable films of Shammi's career.