Animator Sanjay Patel Brings His Story of Cultural Identity To Pixar

By Qimmah Saafir Apr 29, 2015

Pixar Animation Studios artist Sanjay Patel is the creator of the company’s upcoming short film “Sanjay’s Super Team.” Patel, the 41-year-old son of immigrants from Gujarat, India, expresses through his work the duality of balancing his Indian and American experiences. The animator, who joined Pixar in 1996, didn’t always embrace the practices he was born into. 

My parents’ whole world revolved around their gods, the Hindu deities. Our worlds were diametrically apart. I just wanted my name to be Travis, not Sanjay.

The film follows the main character Sanjay as he gains a deeper understanding of and appreciation for his parents’ Hindu traditions through daydreaming up a Hindu version of “The Avengers” during family meditation. Patel spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his personal struggle with embracing his Indian culture.

It took me a long time to feel safe with my identity…. If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and give my younger self this short. I want to normalize and bring a young brown boy’s story to the pop culture zeitgeist. To have a broad audience like Pixar’s see this … it is a big deal. I’m so excited about that.

“Sanjay’s Super Team” will premiere in France this June at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Pixar plans to debut the seven-minute short to the public on November 25 before the feature film “The Good Dinosaur.”