By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on March 30, 2016
Director Sanjay Patel's animated short Sanjay's Super Team is the story of a young Indian boy who gets bored with his father's meditation and ends up daydreaming of Hindu gods as superheroes. The animated film released by Pixar, premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and played in theatres prior to The Good Dinosaur. The film was nominated in the 'Best Animated Short Film' category at the Oscars this year where it lost out to Bear Story, the eventual winner.
Sanjay Patel, the writer and director of Sanjay's Super Team, was born to Gujarati parents settled in California. He's worked at Pixar for 20 years as an animator and story artist for films such as A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille and Toy Story 3. Patel likes to illustrate graphic novels based on Hindu culture and after seeing his bright ideas and engaging illustrations, John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, invited Patel to develop a short along similar lines. And Sanjay's Super Team was born.
Interestingly, the film is inspired by Patel's own childhood and ends by showing real-life pictures of Sanjay Patel and his father, from his childhood to present day.
By his own admission, Sanjay found it difficult to make the transition from real to reel life as the hurdles were personal. In an interview Sanjay admits, "I was really reluctant, I was very scared to do it. Embracing this part of my identity, let alone even talking about my parents culture or their rituals, it just felt like really sacred to me and really personal and really vulnerable. So I was really scared to talk about all of that in such a public way.”
The 7-min long animation is a path breaking film for several reasons. It is the first Pixar movie directed by a person of Indian origin and does not feature a fair skinned protagonist. To make the animation look authentic, a South Asian dance expert was roped in to help the animators get their specifics right especially when making the deities move on the screen. The background music of the film is alluring and is composed by Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna. The composer was keen to incorporate the 'bansuri' flute in the score, which comes at a defining moment in the film.