A planetarium show has to recreate knowledge of the universe into imagery that looks as close to reality as possible – has to be entertaining and stimulative. The new show introduced for summer “From the Depths of the Oceans to the Edge of the Universe”, at Birla Planetarium, Hyderabad turned to be a major disappointment on all scores
It was way back in 1987 0r 1989 when my school took me to the Birla Planetarium show. A facility that launched recently was known to be educative and amazingly engaging – and it indeed was amazing. I remember vividly the experience – to begin with the 360 degree image of Hussainsagar filled the lower portion of the dome of the planetarium and gradually the day sky became darker and darker and the stars – thousands and thousands of them filled the sky (as was projected on the dome), and then the show took us young audience through the marvels of the universe, the planets, satellites, milky way, sun, zodiac, eclipse and it was an wonderful ride. We, the children belonging to a different time and age were so excited with the visit that I remember every moment of it well enough – till date.
I wanted to take my children to a planetarium show since a long time – and I thought – what better time than now when Birla Planetarium has launched a new show for summer “From the Depths of the Oceans to the Edge of the Universe”, that includes a sky show and a 3D film that shows the water world, all at Rs 80 per head.
It was a holiday and the planetarium tickets were getting sold like hot cakes, and evidently I was excited – I finally managed to take the kids to the show – afterall you can’t be in Hyderabad and not have seen the planetarium show. And, after a little wait we were inside the small space with the dome on the top all ready to explore the universe. A little hustle bustle followed – it was a ticketed show but no seat numbers were assigned and Hyderabadis that we were – took some time to settle. The show began.
After the introduction, when the space was filled with darkness, the dome converted into night sky did show thousands and thousands of stars – it was spectacular. I was back to my childhood and the kids in the audience couldn’t hold their glee and started clapping.
However, the spectacular beginning gave way to a mediocre show, much to my disappointment – oscillating between some very real looking imagery to screen grabs of videos projected on to the dome to explain a few theories that was spoiling the planetarium effect – the show was definitely informative, but hardly anything that one would expect to watch in a planetarium, where you come for some real to life experience.
With all due respect to the team who must have worked hard to put together the show making it informative and educative – one must surely mention that a Discovery Channel show would have done the same and the videos would have been of a better quality too. After all a planetarium show has to recreate the knowledge into imagery that looks as close to reality as possible – has to be entertaining and stimulative.
With all due respect to the team who must have worked hard to put together the show making it informative and educative – one must surely mention that a Discovery Channel show would have done the same and the videos would have been of a better quality too.
Sorry to say – it was none of the above. Imagine showing this badly conceived show to Gen X kids fed on 3D and 4D television and movie experience. And what more, it was followed by a really well made 3D film on under water life shown in a badly conceived theatre space with no proper acoustics and the voice was totally getting lost; the audience constantly moving in and out was not helping. We heaved a sigh of relief when it was all over in a little over one and half hour.
For me, it was a nostalgia trip gone sour. Kids probably guessed that I was heartbroken, and my 10-year-old tried to make me feel better – “It’s an OK show ma, except for those videos that were popping up, and the narration was boring and funny at places. That lady said we are travelling in the universe, but I hardly felt that. The beginning was good though.” And that sums it up.
Silver lining: A pleasant evening spent on a hill overlooking the beautiful views of the city you love the most, a few selfies and a lot of pictures taken.