NEW DELHI: Some reality shows on India's television have created a storm. Many people are demanding a ban on these shows that border on nudity and invade the private lives of contestants.
One reality show contestant, Zara, has revealed to millions of viewers that she steals documents from her office. To improve her chances of winning the US$1 million prize for telling the truth, she has risked losing her job.
Avneet Kumar, a reality TV viewer, said: "It's very difficult to share your secrets with everyone. Hats off to such people who face this task. Their family is sitting in the studio and the entire nation is watching them on TV. Yet they have the confidence to divulge their secrets. I find this very interesting."
So do millions of viewers who tune into the show "Sach ka Samna" or "Face the Truth" every night. The most popular show on TV currently, it wires contestants to lie detector machines before asking personal questions.
"There is an element of surprise, there an element of suspense. To me, it's like a thriller. You never know which question is round the corner and I think all humans do have a tendency to sneak into everyone else's personal lives.
"I think all of us have that hidden desire. So once in a while, through programmes like these, one can peek into others' lives, which I am sure is otherwise not possible," said Ritesh Hemrajani, another reality TV viewer.
But critics said the show gets too personal and has the ability to break up families. They also argued that it is against Indian culture and can degrade the moral values of people.
Paramjeet Singh Pamma, president of National Akali Dal, said: "'Sach ka Samna', 'Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao' ('Save Me from This Jungle') and some other shows are resorting to sex in order to raise their TRPs. These programmes show obscene stuff that cannot be seen while sitting with women and children at home."
But these are the programmes that viewers want and a flurry of reality shows have come up with never-before-seen formats on Indian televisions – people taking showers in the open, young girls abusing judges and contestants talking about their sexual escapades.
Sevanti Ninan, a media critic, said: "If people are talking about what they are doing in their marriages, relationships and people are watching, I would say, it is a part of Indian culture.
"In fact, there is no such thing as the Indian culture. There is this assumption that Indian culture is something virtuous, where nobody has affairs, there is no extramarital sex. But that's not true, they are like everybody else."
The question is: How much is too much? There is no doubt that a lot of vulgarity appears on TV in the name of creative freedom, but it is best to let viewers decide what they want to watch.