I love a good short, and Sanjay?s Super Team (which plays before The Good Dinosaur) is excellent. With no dialogue and only a few minutes long, Sanjay?s Super Team teaches us lessons of faith and passing on traditions to new generations.
As young Sanjay plays with his action figures and watches a superhero cartoon on TV, his father comes to the family altar to meditate. Inside the altar are three Hindu deities: a male, a female, and a monkey. A brief battle over TV volume leads to Sanjay being brought over to share in the meditation time. But soon he becomes bored with meditation and his imagination takes over. What if the lamp in the altar went out and a demon appeared? What if the deities came to life and battled with the demon? What if Sanjay had to take part in the battle as well? Soon, Sanjay begins to understand these gods as a new kind of superhero. In the end, Sanjay and his father have new things they can talk about.
While gods and superheroes may have a great deal in common (especially in childlike faith), what makes this short film work is that Sanjay finds a new way to understand very ancient traditions. It is easy to think of gods (and this is true of Christian understandings as well) as distant and irrelevant. Often children are dragged to religion when they would much rather be watching superheroes on TV. Yet if God or gods become something they learn to relate to, it opens up the possibility of deeper faith and deeper relationships with the people around them.
At the end of the film there are a couple of photographs, one with director Sanjay Patel and his father when Sanjay was a child, the second with the two of them now that Sanjay is an adult. I take this film as a kind of thanks to a father who offered his son a chance to find his own way into faith.
Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Studios