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Upon returning to Mumbai, Kapoor was hired as an assistant director to Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the 2005 film Black.
He described the experience: "I was getting beaten up, abused, doing everything from cleaning the floor to fixing the lights from 7 am to 4 am, but I was learning every day." Following the release of Black, Bhansali cast Kapoor as the protagonist of his 2007 tragic romance Saawariya, alongside Sonam Kapoor and Rani Mukerji.
The series of financial failures continued with his next release, the Anurag Kashyap-directed crime drama Bombay Velvet, based on the historian Gyan Prakash's book Mumbai Fables, which also starred Anushka Sharma and Karan Johar.
In preparation, Kapoor observed the work of actors Roberto Benigni, Charlie Chaplin, and his grandfather.Kapoor described it as his first complex role and considered it a departure from the "lover boy roles" that he had previously played.Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India reviewed: "The film finally belongs to Ranbir Kapoor who perfects the art of minimalism—and literally grows before your eyes—as the simmering volcano that cannot be held back, once it erupts." Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times, however, was more critical of his performance which he considered "stony rather than calculating—especially jarring compared to the histrionic turns around him". Kapoor is the recipient of several awards, including six Filmfare Awards.The son of actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, and the grandson of actor-director Raj Kapoor, Kapoor pursued filmmaking and method acting at the School of Visual Arts and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, respectively.