PIXAR and their shorts. I love them as do everyone I think. Before watching The Good Dinosaur you will see Sanjay’s Super Team. Just like any other PIXAR short you will get the feels. I usually try to say with one word what a short makes me feel. What emotion it invokes. This one I think is: ACCEPTANCE. I know you are probably wondering why Acceptance, but that’s where we go behind the short. To tell Sanjay’s story. I just hope I can give his story and the short the justice it deserves here on my blog.
SANJAY PATEL (Director) joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1996 an animator on “A Bug’s Life.” Since then he has animated on many of Pixar’s feature films, including “Toy Story 2,” “Monster’s Inc.,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Cars,” Toy Story 3” and “Monsters University.” In addition to animating, Patel also storyboarded extensively for “Monster’s Inc.,” “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story 2.” For the Cars Toons “Mater’s Tall Tales,” Patel stepped up to act as animation supervisor on many of the shorts in the series.
Growing up in San Bernardino, Calif., in a Gujarati family, Patel’s earliest artistic influences stemmed from two very different worlds: comic books and Saturday morning cartoons, and the Hindu gods and spiritual culture that came to define his upbringing. After pursuing his artistic interests at the Cleveland Institute for the Arts, Cal-Arts and Pixar, Patel eventually turned his attention back to his roots, creating art, graphic novels and picture books that re-envisioned Hindu mythology in a modern, pop-culture way.“Sanjay’s Super Team” is Patel’s personal story and a “mostly true” chronicle of his journey to understand the Hindu world so important to his parents. Patel resides in Oakland with his fiancé and their son.
I think we can all understand a little about butting heads with our family. Over traditions, “Coolness”, to even the more hot button topics like politics and religion. There comes a point as we grow up and become our own person who has our own way of thinking that we automatically start blocking our parents influence. Sanjay said growing up was like that. He felt “like I didn’t fit in any box. I didn’t fit in with the brown kids. I didn’t fit in with the white kids.” He struggled, but finally found his place at PIXAR. While spending days working at PIXAR he began reading the The Ramayana which is a massive Indian origin story. As he was going through this epic story he began drawing. He started working on his first book: The Little Book of Hindu Deities. He started combining his passion for the graphic arts and storytelling to his past and his father’s traditions and religions. Then spent 4 years going over The Ramayana. Researching, Translating, and even taking a year sabbatical from PIXAR to complete the book.
At this point rumblings around PIXAR about Sanjay’s books became a thing. John Lasseter took him aside and asked him if he would be interested in turning his story into a short. Sanjay immediatelly turned him down. In fact he has stated that it took John asking 3 times for him to really consider it and even then he was, “Scared he wouldn’t do the story justice.” Finally he called his dad and asked his dad what he should do:
— kasandria (@SBellasWays) November 16, 2015
So he told John Lasseter yes. So work on Sanjay’s Super Team begun. It had it’s share of struggles. Things were not looking right. Sanjay was frustrated over one scene in particular where the boy is “blessed.” He wanted it to have gravitas and not look too cartoonish, but still be in a cartoon. To even someone like me who has no background in animation it sounded tough. Plus, they were shooting it different. Using different perspectives and new technology. Finally they had a completed short that everyone was happy with. Now Sanjay just had to show it to the one man who mattered most: His Dad.
They flew him out to PIXAR. It had been only his second trip to where his son now worked. The last movie his father had seen was The Sound Of Music. They keyed the short up on screen. The lights dimmed. The short played. Sanjay watched nervously as his father watched Sanjay’s Super Team for the first time. When the lights came back on his father was emotional and told Sanjay he was “Super Proud of him.” They hugged. Which for Sanjay meant so much. They were not an affectionate family. It took Sanjay 30 years for this moment that was helped by his short and he hopes that both parents and kids relate to the short and see more than just something fun. I hope you see more as well. I hope you see: ACCEPTANCE.
***Disclosure: I attended the #GoodDinoEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***