In her new podcast ‘Is Romance Dead?’ produced by Bumble, comedian Kaneez Surka dissects how our ideas of courtship have evolved

In one of the funnier moments of Kaneez Surka’s new podcast, Is Romance Dead, the improv comedian considers changing her career to an international spy. “I can find out so much with so little information,” she says. “Who is that hottie you bumped into while buying baingan [brinjal]? Is that guy ghosting you or really doing a social detox?” — Kaneez masi will have the answers.

The episode, titled ‘Social media and romance’, in which she dissects if social media takes the magic and mystery out of dating, is the first in this series produced by Bumble. The podcast (which can be streamed in all platforms) sees Kaneez on a quest to understand the idea of romance through music, food, films, travel and books. Guests from different walks of life, include singers Vishal Dadlani and Nikhil D’Souza, chefs Ranveer Brar and Pooja Dhingra, filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, costume designer Neeta Lulla and more.

So, what is the result? Is romance dead? Kaneez answers with a laugh, “You know, I personally did believe that. Maybe not dead perhaps, just that we don’t have time for it. But the more I spoke to people, the more I realised that it’s not dead, it has just evolved.”

For over 50 years now, the westernised idea of romance — chocolates, flowers, violins — has elbowed its way into our imagination. “My understanding of romance had been the commercial version we have seen in pop culture,” she says, adding that this made her pit love against romance. “After over 20 interviews, I understood that there is a lot more to it.”

The podcast is divided into eight episodes of music; food; wedding; travel; film, TV and literature; social media; and mind, heart and body. In the film section, for instance, Kaneez speaks to Imtiaz Ali, Anupama Chopra and Anuja Chauhan about how chemistry is built between characters, what the common tropes are and the most iconic couples. The podcast also gets on board neurologists like Dr Siddharth Warrier to explore the biological and psychological aspects of falling in love.

“Everyone experiences romance differently,” says Kaneez, adding, that she especially loved observing how romantic people can get about their passion too. “You should hear Ranveer Brar describing his most romantic meal. ‘A dollop of ghee, a drizzle of chilli oil and crushed papadam’. I was like oh my God how do you make khichdi so sensual!”

But, with the easy availability of options on dating apps becoming greater than ever, do we value people lesser? Have our expectations from our partners changed?

“In one of the interviews, I did question if our fast-paced life of meeting so many new people was why romance was dying a little bit. But once it gets pointed out to you, you understand that no, it’s evolving for us to have more options. It is the same way not just with love, but also our careers; the things we buy. That is just the pace of the whole world, I am not saying it’s a good or a bad thing, but when everyone’s doing it, it becomes the culture,” she says.

As for our expectations, Kaneez believes they are more a result of age. “Marriage for instance, is not important anymore for me. Like, I am watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo right now and I think I need a partner who can live a minimalist life and let go of things. I think about practical compatibility more than anything else now.”

For now, the comedian has taken to dating via apps, and is horrified at the common phenomenon of ‘ghosting’. Having experienced it once, she says, “I know I sound like a complete dating noob, but where are your manners! All you need to do is say ‘I don’t think this is going anywhere. I really enjoyed chatting with you, but I think it’s time for me to move on, all the best with your life.’”

Coming to think of it, an auto-fill option with that very text would not be bad. Is Bumble listening?

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