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Pixar diversifies with animated short spotlighting the Indian-American experience

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Later this year, Pixar will release its first short film focusing on an Indian-American family, and the short tells a semi-autobiographical story, said director Sanjay Patel in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

"Sanjay's Super Team" takes place at a motel Patel's parents bought when he was a child. The seven-minute short features Patel as a boy and his father, a devout Hindu, who calls his son over for their daily puja, a ritual of prayer. Finding the ceremony boring, the younger Patel begins daydreaming, and the Hindu gods turn into veritable superheroes in his mind.

"My parents' whole world revolved around their gods, the Hindu deities," Patel told the Los Angeles Times. He added that growing up in the U.S. made him want to assimilate more deeply into American culture, saying, "I just wanted my name to be Travis, not Sanjay."

According to Patel, who originally pitched "Sanjay's Super Team" to Pixar executives in 2012, Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter encouraged him to make the story personal and bring the duality of his upbringing into the short. You can see concept art from the film above.

"Sanjay's Super Team" will debut this June at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. Its theatrical premiere will come Nov. 25, ahead of The Good Dinosaur, Pixar's second animated feature of the year after Inside Out.

"If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and give my younger self this short," Patel said. "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."

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