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Growing up in San Bernardino in the 1980s a child of immigrants from Gujarat, India, Pixar Animation Studios artist Sanjay Patel straddled two worlds. Like many American kids of the era, he played with Transformers, watched Looney Toons cartoons and read Superman comics, but he also performed a daily Hindu ritual of meditation and prayer called a puja with his father.

The conflict and the connection Patel felt around that ritual, and around his Indian roots in general, inspired him to direct the short film "Sanjay's Super Team.” Pixar released it Nov. 25 ahead of its feature "The Good Dinosaur." In June, 2015 "Sanjay's Super Team" premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. The film was also a nominee for the Short Film (Animated) category for 2016 Oscars.

In an interview with LA Times, Patel, 41 said “My parents' whole world revolved around their gods, the Hindu deities.” Patel joined Pixar in 1996 as an animator on "A Bug's Life" and has worked on several films including "Toy Story 3," "Monsters, Inc." and "The Incredibles. "Our worlds were diametrically apart. I just wanted my name to be Travis, not Sanjay."

Patel said as a child he felt deeply the absence of anyone who looked like him in films and television. In a screening room at Pixar this month, while wearing a Ramones T-shirt and a hoodie, Patel talked about the challenge of openly embracing his Indian background at work, even at a company with a significant number of Asian American employees (Peter Sohn, the director of "The Good Dinosaur," is Korean American).

Patel, who lives in Oakland with his fiancee and 2-year-old son, studied animation at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the California Institute of the Arts.

Check out Sanjay’s Filmography at Disney Wikia

Sources:

LA Times

The Verge

 

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