The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New dimension to fun journey back in time

It was a day for dual delights at Science City on Thursday, with the unveiling of a film on the Mayan civilisation and a 3-D theatre show. While one was a historical take on the past, the other was about having a little fun. Both promise to captivate the crowds.

The film is a journey into a lost civilisation, whose unsolved mysteries haunt the world even today. The Mayan culture of Central America was advanced enough to have a calendar with the breakdown of the days, months and years, centuries before the Europeans. Mayans were mathematically advanced and were one of the first to have discovered the use of zero. And although blood, gore and human sacrifice were a part of their culture, Mayans were also artistically inclined.

Now, Calcuttans can catch a glimpse of this fascinating piece of history, as well as the painstaking route to discovery, followed by many an explorer and adventurer keen to unravel the secrets of the majestic Mayans. The film, Mystery of the Maya, will be screened five times a day, in Hindi and English, at the Science City Space Theatre, for the next one year. The experience at the “first IMAX theatre in the country and the only domed one (not flat screen)”, is unique.

Science City screens a different film every year, from space journeys to the Serengeti Plains. But this is the first attempt in an Indian language. “The films are very popular, but English, especially the American accent, is not easy for everyone to follow,” says Tapan Kumar Ganguly, director of Science City. Narrated and translated in Calcutta but mixed in Paris, the synchronisation is fairly smooth.

The total cost for the 40-minute film is around Rs 50 lakh, including the cost of the yearly rent — “the cheapest one so far” — but it will be available to the viewer for Rs 30. And the authorities are confident that the switch to Hindi will boost sales of the already-popular feature at Science City. Filmed on location, it is a combination of actual dramatic reconstruction, archaeological excavation, archival material and animation sequences.

The 3-D theatre is another matter altogether. The spoof magic show is a testimony to the attraction of illusion. And, according to director Ganguly, it is in fact the first step to creating a gallery dedicated to illusion at the science park. The five-minute entertainment might cost Rs 20, but with UFOs flying in front of your nose, a giant snake trying to bite you and cloned rats crawling close to you, it is a thrill ride all the way.

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