Growing up in California, Sanjay Patel struggled to make sense of his family’s religiosity. Not that he was a non-believer — he just wanted to be somewhere else, doing something else.
Such as watching Voltron, an animated TV series about a giant robot put together b by a team os space explorers. Now 41, Patel has his own animated film, and it’s called Sanjay’s Super Team.
And it’s about Hindu gods and goddesses as superheroes, in the mould of The Avengers, according to reports based on early viewing allowed to select publications.
The seven-minute short is slated for release in November. It’s been made and produced by Pixar, the animation giant that also made Toy Story, Finding Nemo and such other mega-hits.
“I want to normalize and bring a young brown boy's story to the pop culture zeitgeist,” Patel told LA Times earlier this year. And thus was born the story of a little boy Sanjay and his super gods.
The film opens with a rather grey scene of a boy — a brown boy — watching TV, as a man, his father, prays in another part of the room, using a prayer bell. The man asks Sanjay to join him.
The boy begins daydreaming instead, of Hindu gods — three mainly, Hanuman, Durga and Vishnu — as characters from The Avengers, supermen and women, heroes.
The short has no dialogues, only background music, by composer Mychael Danna, who won an Oscar for Life of Pi. The music is culturally grounded, according to reviews.
Patel, who joined Pixar in 1996 as an animator for A Bug’s Life and went on to work on Toy Story 3 and The Incredibles, grew up wanting to be anything but what he was.
“My parents' whole world revolved around their gods, the Hindu deities,” he told LA Times. “Our worlds were diametrically apart. I just wanted my name to be Travis, not Sanjay.”
It took him time to accept himself as Indian American, and understand his parent’s world. And that’s how the short ends — the boy begins understand his father’s religiosity.
Patel’s parents run a motel in San Bernardino, California.