Pixar Short Films Collection 3 (2018) - full transcript

Hi, my name is Sanjay Patel.
I'm the director of Sanjay's Super Team.

And I'm Nicole Grindle, the producer.

I was just thinking about

the "Based on a true story,
mostly true story."

We realized
that we wanted people to know

that this wasn't some story
about Hinduism,

but this was your story.

Yeah, I think a fun detail is that
we wanted the TV and the shrine

to be exact same shapes,

the incense on the father's shrine to
mirror the bunny ears on the television.

And little Sanjay is on the western side
of the room, on the left,

and his dad is on the eastern side,
on the right.

I love that 2D cartoon,
but, man, it was so hard.

Pixar is known for doing
3D computer animation,

and so when we have
to work on 2D animation,

it's actually a bit of a struggle
for us.

The problem was
that I wanted this low-budget,

cheesy, bad Saturday-morning cartoon

and we showed it to John Lasseter.

Things really backfired.

John pointed out, "If your kid
is watching this TV show,

"and if it's not cool,
he's going to seem dumb

"and our audience is not going to care
when the father turns off the TV."

And, once he said that,
I was like "Duh,"

and I had to beg, beg, and beg
Ms. Nicole here

for some extra time to fix our big mess.

So, in the altar
the father produces a diya,

and for folks who don't know, a diya
is the small, little brass candle.

Diya was one of the titles of the film
that we'd actually considered

because light in this short is
the metaphor for history and culture.

So, the first time you see
the father's altar,

there's three principal deities,

Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman,

and they're very specific
to my father's practice at home.

I really wanted Vishnu
because he represents preservation,

and you can always spot Vishnu
because he's always depicted in blue.

Hence, blue flame is blue,
this little kid's pajama's blue,

and again, that links to Vishnu.

Light is a big theme.

Once the boy blows out this candlelight,

he's disrespecting
what his father's culture is about,

blowing out
and extinguishing this tradition.

And I just felt, for a pantomime short,

that this sort of lamp of knowledge
could be a very universal idea.

Once he blows out
the light of that world,

you sort of let in the bad forces,

which is represented
by this bad guy that emerges.

I do think that
that monster's pretty scary.

A lot of people questioned it
when we were making the film,

and we thought that
although it was scary,

little Sanjay is empowered.

That, although the kids were scared,

they could identify,
see themselves as that hero.


We have all these statues
being destroyed here by this bad guy.

He's very much doing
what this little kid was doing,

disrespecting his father's culture.

And little Sanjay figures out
really early on

that the first thing he needs
to do is light that candle.

Right, and the second that diya gets lit
and that big burst of white light,

you have this amazing transition
in this temple.

The deities come to life,

bringing to life his father's world
through this kid's imagination.

We transition into this
high-contrast lighting,

and the thing that I was really after

was this union between
this two-dimensional cartoon

and this three-dimensionality
that Pixar is so great at,

where it feels like stylized
comic book come to life.

This scene was so hard.
Do you remember that?

We found out right from the get-go
that the temple wasn't big enough

to achieve this kind of anime approach.

When it came time
to animate the three deities,

I really was searching
for something very specific.

I didn't necessarily want them
to move like superheroes

that we had sort of come
to know in the west.

And, I just thought,

well, heck, these deities have been
brought to life for thousands of years

in the dance tradition
and theater traditions of India,

and so we found Katherine Kunhiraman.

She was a dance instructor.

We did a great session
with her and the animators.

She helped us actually choreograph
Vishnu to Bharatanatyam,

Hanuman to Kalaripayattu,

and with Durga, she mapped
on the Odissi dance tradition.

You really feel like you're looking at
something that's from South Asia.

We had to work really hard
to make it clear

that little Sanjay's seeing the diya
upside down as looking like a bell.

The sound designer even added
a bell sound to it, too,

when the camera spins
and sees the bell shapes.

It was always very important to me
that the bad guy didn't get vanquished,

that he doesn't get destroyed,
but he gets calmed down.

I mean, that's exactly what my dad
was trying to do growing up.

He just wanted me to sit still,
meditate, and to calm down,

and obviously,
that's torture for a six-year-old.

But now as a 40-year-old, I can really
see the benefit and the wisdom of it.

I love this moment when the deities

are giving the little blue-flame toy
back to little Sanjay.

You'd always talked about how this was
a moment where they were saying to him,

"You can have both cultures.

"You can have this culture, but you can
also enjoy this American culture."

This little moment always gets a laugh.

When the little boy is finally engaging
with this world of the deities...

We pull the rug out and they disappear

and he's left with these dead statues.

This is another
important moment, symbolically.

Yeah, it felt like that moment was
all about the father feeling like,

"That's it, my tradition ends here,

"my son is not interested
in what my culture represents."

We really wanted to show that

by him actually
physically putting out that candle.

And, it's a perfect contrast to when
little Sanjay opens those blinds, too,

because again, on that theme of light,

he's bringing the light
into that larger room

and bringing him and his father together
and shows that

"I have heard what you're saying,
I understand it,

"and in my way,
I'm going to preserve this culture."

Yeah, they finally meet in the middle.

That was really important,
thematically, for me.

And there we are!
There's that photo of me and my dad.

John Lasseter thought
it was really important

to say this was your personal story,

so it was Sanjay's Super Team.

I really wanted this notion of team.

I never wanted it to be superheroes.

My father and me were a team,

and it really reflected my experience
working here at Pixar over the years.

There's so many talented people
who work together.

It is what I think is truly brilliant
about the films, that teamwork.

We put out a call to the folks
who were working on the film

and asked if their kids
wanted to do drawings.

And they brought
these great drawings in.

And that was really important to me,

because this whole short is very much
about a kid's imagination.