Hidden cameras follow well-known personalities living together, doing their own thing and making comments - not always charitable - about others. Welcome to Sony TV's reality show Bigg Boss, which, already in its second week, is raising plenty of eyebrows.
Modelled on Endemol's reality-soap Big Brother, Bigg Boss raises many moral questions. The show shows the other side of celebrities, which is not a bad idea. But the fact is that with several cameras following them round the clock in a house, there are chances the show could enter a grey area.
It has everything to keep the audience hooked - suspense, drama and catty comments.
Thirteen people from different walks of life are put together into a house erected in Kazarat Studio, about 300 km away from Mumbai. Nitin Desai, who made the sets for Sanjay Leela Bhanslai's "Devdas", has designed it.
The conflicts and ego clashes of the participants are giving away their true nature.
"The participants know there is are cameras everywhere and the contract clearly states that they will be responsible for the language they use on the show and their conduct. They can't get away by saying, 'we didn't know'," a Sony source told IANS.
But it seems that in their quest to outdo each other the participants are ignoring the normal rules of decency.
That made one college student, Janani, say: "I don't feel there is a need for such a show. It promotes bitching, it's hardly entertaining and a waste of time. Why would I care whether celebrities get along or not?"
Every week, one person unable to cope with the situation will be eliminated. The lone survivor at the end of three months will go on to win the Rs.5 million prize money.
"We're certainly not advocating a peep show here," the channel's creative head Sandeep Sickand clarified recently.
"We're will capture the contestants doing normal things, in the beautiful house that we've specially built for 'Bigg Boss' with a swimming pool, et al in Karjat. Of course, the contestants are excited. But no sex! They'll do normal things like play games, cook food and etc," Sickand said.
The show - Monday to Friday 10-11 p.m. - features unusual scenes like model Carol Gracias kneading dough, item girl Rakhi Sawant playing chess with Bobby Darling, and a cow making an appearance at the Karjat house.
After the unending saas-bahu sagas such as Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki and Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, audiences are eager to view reality shows. And channels have come up with increasingly outrageous ideas to cash in on the trend.
Sony's dance show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa boosted its TRPs because it was thoroughly entertaining and was certainly for family viewing.
On the other hand, STAR is reaping the benefits of a feel good dance show Nach Baliye 2 - where celebrity couples show their dancing skills.
Zee's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa music contest has had many formats - and most of them were very popular.
MTV is doing Roadies - in which youngsters from different parts of the country are put together for a long journey. As it is a tougher reality show, it has the participants involved in quarrels, confrontations and catty comments.
The trend of reality TV started more than a decade ago with Zee TV's Antakshari 1993 and later STAR carried it forward with Kaun Banega Crorepati with Amitabh Bachchan as host. The latter's phenomenal success encouraged Sony to format Indian Idol, which also had an exceptional viewer rating.
However, not all reality shows have been successful.
For instance, Zee's Deal Ya No Deal and Business Baazigar failed to bring the desired results. Similar has been the case with Sony's Fear Factor India, in which celebrities had to conquer their fear of reptiles by actually sharing time with them in a glass box. STAR One's Lakme Fashion House got a lukewarm response.
With Bigg Boss venturing into dangerous zones, the audience has now to worry about the moral implications and decide whether they want it at all.