Monday, November 30, 2015

Sanjay's Super Team

Over Thanksgiving break I went to see Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. The movie was good, but it was the same as many other Pixar movies: the protagonist is somehow removed from their comfortable home and they must go on a long journey to get back to it, seeking help from some funny characters along the way. Eventually Arlo, the good dinosaur himself befriends the little boy who he blames for getting him into this mess to begin with, Spot. Their friendship grows as the movie progresses, and I don't want to spoil anything so I'll stop there.

Arlo and Spot agree to help Nash, Butch, and Ramsey along their journey, in return for their help.
The movie was BEAUTIFUL. It looked so realistic and definitely inspired me to go hiking. However, what really caught my eye was the short film that played before the movie, Sanjay's Super Team. For me, the short film had much deeper meaning than the movie.

Sanjay's Super Team is about the Patels, an Indian-American family. Sanjay's father prays to Hindu deities while Sanjay prays to his deities, the superhero cartoons he watches on television. Sanjay is annoyed when his father turns off the tv, takes away his action figure, and forces Sanjay to pray with him. Sanjay is distracted by his action figure during prayer when his imagination suddenly whisks him away to a Hindu temple. Inside the temple, statues of Durga, Vishnu, and Hanuman come to life and help him defeat an evil monster. This experience changes Sanjay, who accepts his father's religiosity and consequently joins him in prayer.

(L to R) Durga, Vishnu, and Hanuman
I thought the short was really cool for a couple of reasons. First, this is the first time an Indian character is the focus of a Pixar film, which is important in animation history. Second, I'm interested in mythology, and the portrayal of the deities brought me back to my high school English class, where my yogi storytelling teacher told us both the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Third, the juxtaposition between Sanjay and his father shows that people of different generations and cultures are more similar than we think. At the end of the film, it is revealed that Sanjay Patel, the creator of the short, based it on a true story. 

The real Sanjay Patel and his father.


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