What Remains is a play on the traditional ghost story. The protagonist returns to her childhood home, only to discover a ghost living there. As in many supernatural narratives, the ghost exists in response to past traumas that continue to bind her to the human world. Often times she is not even aware that she has died. Also known as "intelligent hauntings," such ghosts remain in a limbo state, haunting the scene of death or places that were meaningful to them in life. They are, on some level, aware of the living and react to being seen on the occasions that they materialize.
Inspired by the experimental narratives films of Maya Deren and 1960s and 70s Bollywood cinema and song, What Remains uses visual elements of Ganesh’s work and Khurana’s storytelling, drawing upon their shared interests in memory, the construction of the self, and psychic trauma.
A woman returns to her childhood home and the floodgates of memory open. In this process she discovers a presence that’s all too familiar – her childhood self. As children, we may hear, witness or experience trauma that remains unexplained, which are in turn hidden, forgotten or internalized as a means of coping. Unresolved or unacknowledged, such traumatic experience transforms into memories that linger at and haunt the edges of our adult lives. These ghosts inside us persist, and ultimately need to be set free.
In adulthood, these traumatic events are persistently re-experienced through recurrent, intrusive recollections of the distressing event via a range of images, thoughts, or perceptions, and even illusions, hallucinations, or dissociative flashback episodes related to the trauma. The protagonist’s journey through the film is an unfolding of all of this. A woman returns to her childhood home only to discover much more than she is prepared for… discarded or suppressed elements of herself, in the form of a child ghost. In young children, repetitive play expressing aspects of trauma regularly occurs – the child ghost watches Bollywood movies, or plays at braiding hair, for example. This dual notion of how we experience trauma as adults and as children weaves itself throughout our ghost story narrative. We use the conventions of film and supernatural storytelling to give a material form to the process of confronting unresolved psychic material floating at the margins of everyday adult life.