The crowd at San Diego Comic-Con fell hard for Pixar’s upcoming short “Sanjay’s Super Team,” one of the studio’s most heartwarming films yet.
The short will air before the highly anticipated animated movie “The Good Dinosaur,” which premieres in November.
Directed by 20-year Pixar veteran Sanjay Patel (who cut his teeth on 1998’s “A Bug’s Life” and went on to help animate “Toy Story 2,” “The Incredibles,” and the “Monsters, Inc.” movies), “Sanjay’s Super Team” is a “‘mostly’ true story” based on the animator’s upbringing in an American-Indian household.
It stars a young boy, Sanjay, caught between his idolization of superhero characters and his father’s religious traditions. When he accidentally disturbs one of his father’s rituals, the boy is transported to a cosmic temple where he must band together with a troupe of Hindi gods to defeat an evil shape-shifter.
From the moment it starts, it’s clear “Sanjay’s Super Team” is a personal film. The short opens with Sanjay and his father sitting on opposite sides of a living room, admiring their respective icons — Sanjay plays with a superhero action figure, his father prays.
“I worshipped my gods on the TV and he worshipped his at his shrine,” Patel told the packed room at San Diego Comic-Con.
Patel admitted that after 30 years of avoiding his parents’ customs, he was first drawn to his Indian heritage when a unique rave culture swept San Francisco. “Goa trance” raves were made infamous for their illicit drug use, psychedelic imagery, and Indian trance music. Patel couldn’t escape the all-too-familiar sounds of bells and chanting throughout the Bay Area, where Pixar is headquartered.
“I pretty much rejected my parents’ culture. I wanted to be American,” Patel said. “Then rave culture happened and it was in my head all the time. [Goa trance] imagery was all over CD covers. It really [forced me to] look at my parents’ beliefs differently.”
Patel began drawing deities as cutesy cartoons in his notebooks, and put the illustrations together in a book called “Little India,” which he sold at a San Diego Comic-Con roughly 10 years ago.
Fast-forward to the present, and Patel has published four books and written and directed Pixar’s 17th short film, based on his journey to embrace his cultural identity.
We won’t give away the film’s ending.
But “Sanjay’s Super Team” is the cutest Oscar bait we’ve seen in a while.
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