Sagar Salunke, Ulhas Tayade, Rajesh Kumar, Madhavi Juvekar
Hollywood always loves inspirational, feel good children's stories when it comes to short films. This is as much because most of the nominees don't actually get seen as it is a testimony to their fondness for the films themselves. "Kavi" certainly qualifies as a sort of "power of the human spirit" film centered around a young Indian boy, Kavi (Sagar Salunke), who is forced to serve in slave labor at a brick kiln.
A thesis project for writer/director Gregg Helvey at USC, "Kavi" was shot on location in India and serves as one of this year's examples of activist cinema as Helvey is quick to make sure we realize that slavery is very definitely alive and well throughout the world even today. Kavi works at the brick kiln to help his father pay off a required debt, dealing daily with a rather villainous man who intends to see the debt paid off.
"Kavi" is well shot, but it feels like the weakest of this year's entries, with Salunke's performance never really registering emotionally and the concept of slavery never having the emotional impact it should. There is something to be said, however, for "Kavi" never resorting to over-dramatization or histrionics to get its point across. The story itself is dramatic, and Helvey's script certainly makes its anti-slavery point. "Kavi" is certainly a good film, but only a hyper-sympathetic Hollywood will allow Helvey to take home the golden statuette in 2010.