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Oscar nod for Pixar's Indian-themed short, 'Sanjay's Super Team,' debut film for Sanjay Patel

Concept art from "Sanjay's Super Team."
Sanjay Patel photographed June 4, 2015, at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif.
Concept art from "Sanjay's Super Team."

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Update: 1/14/2016: "Sanjay's Super Team" has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated). Congrats to Sanjay Patel and his whole team!

KPCC's John Rabe and animation expert Charles Solomon talk with Pixar animator and director Sanjay Patel about "Sanjay's Super Team," the short that opens with "The Good Dinosaur" November 24.

"I told (Pixar's) John Lasseter that every morning my dad worshiped his gods in his shrine, which were the Hindu gods, and every morning I worshiped my gods in my shrine, which wee the superheroes and my shrine was the TV." 

-- Pixar animator Sanjay Patel to  KPCC's Off-Ramp

It's a simple premise: A little Indian boy tries to watch super hero cartoons one morning, as his father tries to worship at his household shrine. The father shuts off the blaring TV and makes his son come pray with him. The boy falls asleep and has a dream in which superheroes morph into his father's deities. Good triumphs, the boy awakens, and at the end, son and father have new respect for each other.

The opening scene of Pixar's new short, "Sanjay's Super Team"

It's only seven minutes long, but it tells a story that's millennia old and as new as the next baby and his doting father. It's "Sanjay's Super Team," the directorial debut (and avowed finale) of longtime Pixar animator Sanjay Patel, whose parents moved him from Great Britain to San Bernardino County to run a motel when he was only five.

"The one deity that felt like it was at the bedrock of the short was Vishnu. In the Vedic cosmology, there's Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma. Brahma is the god of creation, Shiva is the god of destruction, and Vishnu is the god of preservation and balance. And this trinity works to keep things in balance. I always knew Vishnu was going to be this perfect mirror to my father. In many ways, he had this tightrope that he walked in terms of someone who was really grounded in the East, but had to walk this line in the West in terms of balancing his identities and figuring out a way to survive as an immigrant. His job was bringing us to this country and helping us balance the priorities of both cultures and helping to keep one alive without rejecting the other."

Patel -- who also writes and illustrates books like The Little Book of Hindu Deities -- says he and his father were very emotional when they watched the short together ... his father not having seen a movie since "The Sound of Music" in 1960s England! Patel also adds that -- not surprisingly -- having a two year old son of his own has given him a new appreciation for his father and mother.

For much more with Sanjay Patel, listen to the whole interview by pressing the arrow in the audio payer.