“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.

 

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

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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.

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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.