Before you get to see the movie The Good Dinosaur (and I’m assuming most of you know this already because you’ve already seen the movie, if you haven’t then go see it) you will see the Pixar short Sanjay’s Super Team. Sanjay’s Super Team is actually a tribute to Sanjay Patel’s father and a testament to his own experiences. That’s why it’s a “mostly” true story. We had the opportunity to interview Sanja Patel and the producer Nicole Grindle. Sanjay worked at Pixar for 20 years and while he was there he sort of turned his back on his culture. He just wanted to fit in says producer Nicole Grindle. She went on to say that after about ten years working at Pixar he got into South Asian art fell in love with it and starting making books. Pixar fell in love with his books and John Lasseter asked him to make a short. And he didn’t want to do it. Sanjay goes on to explain that it was so personal to put himself out there like that. South Asian Art was his culture and he was trying to keep that out of the workplace. He was convinced by his father to do it and it became a beautiful story.
He said that uh um he said, “That it was my duty to at least try. Win or lose. He’s like that doesn’t matter. That’s not part of the equation Sanjay, but is your duty to at least try.” And I was like, “Dang dad.” [LAUGHS] So I tried. [LAUGHS]
Sanjay’s super team is the story of a little boy that just wants to play and watch TV and not pray. He’s not dressed like his culture he just wants to “turn his back” on his culture. Sanjay really struggled with telling his story. As he was creating this short he wanted to make it a Western and John Lasseter was like no that’s not your story. Tell your story about you and your dad.
He gave me permission to like say things that I wouldn’t say otherwise just because I think growing up in this culture I was always so afraid of exposing my identity, my parents identity, my parents community I think my–Like my normal was always to just try to fit in and so it took John Lassiter to say to me like, “No Sanjay your story, your parent’s story has value here. You have permission to tell it.” I’m super grateful.
Sanjay seems like a very modest man because he didn’t even want his name in the title of the short. But everyone else was like what else could we call it. It’s your story your name has to be in it. He also said that it’s the first time that Pixar has done something so personal. He was allowed to fly his father to the studio and they watched it together. Pixar filmed the moment and he said it was very special. His dad was all business at first but once they got to talking it was very emotional. His dad told him how proud of him he was. I think it was so amazing that he was able to create something so special.