A lively cruise to the bottom of the world

  • 30/07/1993

Which schoolchild looks forward to a class in geography where the exciting topic of stars and constellations is reduced to dull discussions, books and a plastic globe? It was perhaps with this in mind that the Nehru Planetarium has attempted -- successfully -- to convert lessons into fun.

Onward To Antarctica, a show on the Indian expedition to the South Pole that it has produced, is an admirable job of how to sugar-coat lessons. As the lights in the planetarium dim, stars emerge magically above and the great dome comes alive with pictures on all sides. A cartoon figure pops up, to the delight of the children, and invites them aboard the ship that carries Col J K Bajaj's 1989 expedition to the frozen continent. Col Bajaj was the first Asian to reach the Pole.

As the ship moves southward, the changing patterns of stars, constellations and galaxies above. These are introduced through the Indian and Greek mythologies associated with them. As the ship nears its goal, images appear of penguins, the never-setting midnight sun and eventually, the victorious team at the Pole.

However, viewers are expected to have the vertebral properties of an owl, because they must keep turning around constantly to take in all the action on the dome. But the show has been scripted imaginatively, the music is catchy and the narration is excellent. It is an educative experience successfully disguised as entertainment.