Amala Akkineni has made her mark in multiple film industries in the country, including in Tollywood where she is hailed as an iconic star. After taking a long hiatus from her acting career in 1994, to raise her son Akhil Akkineni, she came back in 2012 with cameos and supporting roles. ZEE5 Original Series High Priestess marks Amala’s debut on the digital platform.
The trailer, with supernatural spirits, tarot card readings, psychic intuitions and an unrequited love story, gave a sneak peek into what was to unfold. And that is what High Priestess is about, primarily. Unless you sit down to binge watch the eight-episode series directed by Pushpa Ignatius, you will have no idea what you are walking into. For everyone in search of something out of the ordinary yet simplistic and real, High Priestess is where your search ends.
Right from its first frame, High Priestess delivers what it promises. The show revolves around Swathi Reddy, a world-renowned psychic and tarot card reader who has decided to keep a distance from the worldly noise and has settled down in a tranquil house in Vizag. Her world is small and limited to her old mother and a teenage daughter, Sneha. But the doors to her house are open to all who are seeking help.
The story begins with a young girl who is stuck in a psychotic relationship. Swathi, with her tarot cards, helps her find the solution. Next follows the story of a woman who trades her blood for never-ending physical beauty by awakening a demon bottled up in the body of a doll. It becomes a routine for Swathi to talk to people about their sorrows, mistakes, regrets and guilt. The extremely empathetic Swathi cannot help her tears when she comes face to face with their realities. But she wears the shield of strength and shows the way to a more peaceful tomorrow, to both her clients and to the problematic other-worldly elements.
Each story in High Priestess may seem like just another story of a psychic solving mysteries until you look closer. In the show, every story has a life-lesson that the makers of the show want their viewers to take away. The show blurs the lines of morality as defined by the world and shows you the good and bad in all situations, by being understanding and not judgemental.
The most important part of the show is, however, between Swathi and Vikram (Kishore Kumar). The two shared a college romance and had dreamed of a fairy tale life together. But that clearly wasn’t to be their reality. Vikram comes to visit Swathi in Vizag on a random untold trip. He has been keeping a tab on this world-renowned psychic and had visualised the conversations that they would have when they meet again. After the initial greeting, Swathi asks if he needs help and they start their tarot card reading.
But unlike her other clients, she takes this session in a more relaxed and jolly setting. She doesn’t send him off, like everyone else, after the reading. They spend the entire day talking about Swathi’s experiences, the beginning of her journey and their beautiful past. She even introduces Vikram to Sneha, whose reaction is confused and uncomfortable. Why did Vikram return after all these years? Why didn’t Swathi ask him to leave after the reading? Why wasn’t their reading more insightful like others’?
Every episode of this ZEE5 original series is a wonderful cliff hanger. But nothing beats the final episode, which will surely take you on a roller coaster ride with a high that you hadn’t expected. Director Pushpa has weaved something remarkable from the ordinary. Her cast, Amala, Kishore, Varalaxmi, Brahmaji, and others are here for a reason and you cannot overlook them. With performances marked with precision and supported with a background score that keeps your eyes from blinking, High Priestess is here to set new standards.
You definitely cannot miss it. And after something so strong, switch to What’s Up Panimanishi for a light watch on ZEE5.