If you were asked to name a few Disney Pixar movies, you would probably say Toy Story or Frozen, right? They’re traditional, creative American Disney Pixar movies that have become a symbolic icon. But how about if Pixar was to create its first Desi, Indian-American short film? Well, it just so happens that they have! This recent breakthrough by Disney Pixar has shown the initiative to venture out, and reveal diversity within America. Rather than sticking to the same type of culture, they are breaking boundaries with this enlightening short story film, Sanjay’s Super Team.
Sanjay’s Super Team is about a young, first generation Indian-American boy who loves popular Western culture. This conflicts with Sanjay’s father’s traditions, because it is not how he was taught to be as an Indian or Desi. The director of this short story film, also named Sanjay Patel, uses his personal experience to describe the cultural difference he and his father went through each morning.
“He would worship his gods in his shrine, which were the Hindu deities, and I would worship my gods in my shrine, which were the superheroes.”
The cultural clash, and struggle demonstrated between the Indian identity and American identity is what makes this short film inspiring. Many can relate to this, as we have grown up surrounded by American Culture and it would make us question as to why we do not follow certain American cultural traditions that our friends did. For example, when classmates came back from Winter break, and excitedly told us what gifts they received for Christmas. As an Indian-American, Arab-American, or any other ethnicity child that does not celebrate Christmas, you would naturally explain and say, “Umm, we don’t get gifts during this time, but we get gifts during our cultural and religious holidays.” Clarifying these reasons always established a line as to why we are so “different.”
But with Sanjay’s Super Team, the newer generations will experience these scenarios differently. Not only does this short film move away from the typical stereotypes that most understated or misunderstood religions, and cultures feel, but it also releases a ray of hope into the future. It will open the door for other animated films to be put out, and represent diversity more creatively. Sanjay Patel reacts to this encouraging, and emotional response from his short film by stating, “It’s like, wow, this stuff does matter, and it is relevant. It’s really and truly healing.”
Recently Sanjay’s Super Team has been nominated for an Oscar. This accomplishment truly shows that the experience through Sanjay’s eyes, as an Indian-American on the big screen will give a chance for America to actually see the relevance of being different, and that being different is not bad. Disney Pixar’s breakthrough will hopefully bring more stories that are not shown in the mainstream media from other ethnic communities. Just as how Hinduism and Indian-Americans are being portrayed in a positive manner, perhaps in the future we will be able to see Islam, and other underrepresented religions will be shown more and in the same way.
This article is written by Mahwesh Fatima