“Sanjay’s Super Team” features Pixar’s first human protagonist of color

NBC News (by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang):

Pixar Animation Studio‘s first human protagonist of color made his debut on the big screen Thanksgiving week in “Sanjay’s Super Team,” directed by Pixar supervising animator and storyboard artist Sanjay Patel.

The short film opened for “The Good Dinosaur,” directed by Peter Sohn.

Patel told NBC News that, growing up, he felt embarrassed by his identity and tried to fit into mainstream American culture. But as an adult, he came to appreciate the richness of the culture his father was trying to pass on to him.

Sanjay’s Super Team” is a seven-minute short film inspired by Patel’s experiences growing up as the child of immigrants in a modest motel along Route 66. The titular Indian-American boy would rather be daydreaming about television superheroes than praying and doing puja with his father. However, the Hindu deities soon transform into a team of dazzling superheroes in the boy’s imagination, bringing him closer to understanding his immigrant father and his place in America.

Before this film, Patel’s father had not seen any of the movies Patel had worked on in his almost 20 years at Pixar, so the studio invited him to watch the film when it was completed. Patel told NBC News that his father was very moved — he was obviously proud of his son’s achievements but was particularly touched to see a film about their relationship.

Sanjay Patel, director of new Pixar short "Sanjay's Super Team".

Sanjay Patel, director of new Pixar short “Sanjay’s Super Team”

In addition to Patel’s work as an animator at Pixar, whose credits include “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 3,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “The Incredibles“, what drew Pixar’s attention to Patel’s developing storytelling skills was his work writing and illustrating children’s books like “Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth” and “Ramayana – Divine Loophole,” and his art exhibitions including “Deities, Demons, and Dudes with ‘Staches” at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

 

Hudson Yang of ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master of None’ nominated for NAACP Image Awards

NBC:

ABC‘s “Fresh Off the Boat” is loosely inspired by celebrity chef Eddie Huang‘s memoir of the same name and stars Hudson Yang as a young Huang, as well as Randall Park as his father, Louis, and Constance Wu as his mother, Jessica. Wu has been nominated for her role in “Fresh Off the Boat” in both the 2015 Critic’s Choice Television Awards and the Television Critics Association Awards.

On Dec. 1, “Fresh Off the Boat” released an in-character cast video and social media campaign under the hashtag #makeitrightFOTB lobbying for a Golden Globe nomination.

Among the nominees for the 47th annual NAACP Image Awards is “Master of None,” Aziz Ansari‘s Netflix series released earlier this fall. Co-creators Ansari and Alan Yang received a nomination for their writing of “Parents,” the second episode of the series, and Ansari was nominated for Outstanding Director for the same episode.

Kelvin Yu (left) talks with Aziz Ansari (right) in a scene in Netflix’s “Master of None.” 

“Parents” deals with second-generation main characters Dev, portrayed by Ansari, and Brian, portrayed by Kelvin Yu, thanking their first-generation parents for sacrifices made during their parents’ journeys to the United States. The pair take their parents out to dinner where they learn about their parents’ youth and upbringing.

The 47th annual NAACP Image Awards is scheduled to take place on Feb. 5, 2016.

Mindy Kaling now has her own Umami Burger, featuring house-made Sriracha aioli

Umami-Mindy

FoodBeast (Peter Pham):

Umami Burger is teaming up with comedic genius Mindy Kaling to create a burger: The Mindy Burger. Kaling is probably best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s award-winning comedy The Office and, more recently, Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project.

The Mindy Burger is made with pickled jalapeños, fried onion strings and a house-made Sriracha aioli on a beef patty. It’s served on Umami’s famous bun.

I love Umami and I was so honored to be able to create my own burger. Spicy and cheesy, it reflects my own personality,” Kaling said.

The burger isn’t for show, either. For every one sold, a dollar will go towards The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Through research, patient support and community outreach, the Pancreatic Cancer Network has set a goal to double pancreatic  cancer survival by 2020.

Available Sept. 1, the burger will be available at all participating Umami Burger locations for $13.

Pixar’s Indian American short film ‘Sanjay’s Super Team’ 

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.57.31 PM
Audrey Magazine: (Ethel Navales) 

Pixar has released exciting news about their newest short film, “Sanjay’s Super Team.”

The short’s director, Sanjay Patel, admits that much of his own life and experiences shaped the story. Specifically, his childhood battle between his American upbringing and his Indian roots. Sanjay felt conflicted between the side of him that watched cartoons and read comics versus the side of him that performed pujaa daily Hindu meditation and prayer ritual.

My parents’ whole world revolved around their gods, the Hindu deities,” Patel told the Los Angeles Times. “Our worlds were diametrically apart. I just wanted my name to be Travis, not Sanjay.”

This also seems to be the case with young Sanjay, the animated protagonist in the 7-minute Pixar short. When Sanjay is pulled away from watching cartoons to meditate and pray, he is both bored and reluctant. As such, he begins to daydream and imagines the Hindu deities as a team of superheroes. Needless to say, he becomes entranced in his daydream. With a newfound interest in the Hindu deities, he becomes one step closer to understanding his religious immigrant parents.

If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and give my younger self this short,” Patel said the Los Angeles Times. “I want to normalize and bring a young brown boy’s story to the pop culture zeitgeist. To have a broad audience like Pixar’s see this … it is a big deal. I’m so excited about that.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 5.00.24 PM

Intrigued? You should be. Director Sanjay Patel has quite an impressive amount of achievements under his belt an animator on A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 3, Monsters Inc. and The Incredibles. This short will be released with the upcoming Pixar film The Good Dinosaur on November 25th. But if that’s just too far away, you can catch “Sanjay’s Super Team” early at June’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France.

Varun Ram: Division I NCAA basketball guard (and neurobiology/physiology major) making Indian Americans proud

AsAm News/Washington Post:

The Maryland Terrapins take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament today.

The Washington Post reports they may not have gotten there without the heroics of a little used Indian American guard who disrupted a last ditch attempt by Valparaiso in their first round game, giving Maryland a 65 -62 victory.

Varun Ram is one of a handful of Indian Americans playing Division I NCAA basketball. His teammates mobbed him on the court after their first round game and Indian Americans watching on TV cheered him with pride.

It’s kind of like seeing your own hopes and dreams come true a little bit,” Shaun Jayachandran said. “He’s living the Indian Terrapin dream.”.  Jayachandran  runs a basketball academy near Boston aimed at Indian American kids.

Ram journey onto the Terrapin squad is quite unique. He’s  a neurobiology and physiology major with a 3.99 GPA. Coming out of high school, he spent a year at boarding school to increase his chances of getting on a Division I basketball team. Some questioned his parents for allowing him to do that.

Just do what most Indian kids do, just go study, and your life will be okay,” Ram remembered people saying. “That’s why I’m so happy that my parents have been so great to me, because I think it’s opened people’s eyes. This is more than just a game. YouCAN do so many other things with it. You CAN balance academics and sports.”

You can read more of Ram’s story in the Washington Post.