Audience Participation in Reality Shows: Paying for a Seat in the Spotlight

We often watch reality shows on TV and wonder if what we see is actually real. We went to Filmistan Studios in Mumbai to get answers to these questions.

The set of the reality show “Dance Diwane” was set up there, and we had conversations with the creative directors and some contestants. It was revealed during the conversation that reality shows do not have a script; however, some aspects are managed in advance.

The most intriguing aspect is the audience’s involvement. In reality shows, audiences are invited by paying money. Each person is charged between 500 to 1000 rupees. They have to sit in one place for up to 12 hours to watch the entire show.

We discussed these issues in our new episodes of “Real to Reel.”

How do coordinators engage with the audience sitting in the studio of reality shows?
How much money do celebrities sitting on the judge’s chair earn?
How much money do anchors and hosts earn? What is the contestant selection process?
What is the budget of reality shows?

Each episode is shot in just one day, and two episodes are completed in a single day. Arvind, the creative director of “Dance Diwane,” said, “The shooting of the show takes place every other week. Two episodes are shot in one day. A 12-hour non-stop schedule has to be maintained without breaks to keep the audience engaged. There is a short break for lunch. The production team always tries to shoot one episode before lunch and one after lunch.”

Audiences are invited by paying money to be a part of reality shows. Many questions arise regarding who these common people are who are invited after paying money. Arvind also answered this question, saying, “The audiences are invited. They are not ordinary people. They are organized groups. Among the audiences, there are many people who have been attending shows as audience members for the past 10 years. In our show, there are approximately 70 guest participants. To seat the audience, one person is paid between 500 to 1000 rupees.”

Reading this, you’ll find that the work of audiences is quite beneficial; they receive payment and get to witness the performances of celebrities and talented contestants. However, it’s not all easy. Sitting for 12 hours straight in one place is indeed a challenging task. They tend to get less enthusiastic and tired. In such situations, audience coordinators come into play, appealing to them to become active again.

Selecting contestants for the show involves a thorough process. The creative director of “Dance Diwane,” Arvind, explained, “We visit every major city in the country and scout for contestants. We shortlist 100 people, from which we eliminate 30 through auditions. Then, we’re left with 70 contestants, who appear before the judges.”

Apart from this, we also reach out to many dance coordinators and run dance schools. We convey our requirements to them, and they suggest suitable candidates for us. Those interested in participating express their desire by submitting dance videos. After that, we meet them. If we find the candidate suitable, we invite them to the show.

The creative team travels from one city to another to select contestants. Arvind mentioned, “All auditions in one city are completed within a single day. This means that candidates from that city are informed in advance. The production team finalizes a venue and organizes a camp there. All contestants go there to audition, and those selected are invited to Mumbai.”

On one side, the creative team travels from one city to another to select contestants, while on the other side, the production team continues preparing the set in Mumbai. Both tasks happen simultaneously. It takes around 22 to 25 days to set up the set. An equal number of days are allocated for contestant selection. Meanwhile, the shooting of the show begins within two months.

The use of 17 cameras is essential for capturing such a large-scale show on TV. Arvind explained, “We utilize 17 cameras. Judges are captured using two to three cameras placed at the center. Additionally, two cameras are used to capture the reactions of the contestants’ families. Four cameras are installed on the stage. Two cameras are also used to showcase the contestants’ performances.”

In reality shows, celebrities are often paid tribute to. Backgrounds may include personal photos, which the actors’ families can provide for a fee to the production house.

During performances, there are no cuts or retakes. Contestants must complete their performance without interruption. If they make a mistake, they cannot restart. Once a performance begins, it lasts only two to three minutes.

Song selection is crucial in dance reality shows. If a song is controversial, it may have an impact on the show’s TRP (Television Rating Point). The creative team ensures that selected songs are appropriate for the audience’s enjoyment. If a song is deemed controversial, it may affect the show’s TRP.

Maintaining consistency in costumes is important, so contestants are provided with costumes that match the theme or lighting of the show. If a contestant’s costume clashes with the lighting, it may be changed overnight.

Contestants are accommodated in hotels to ensure their comfort and safety. Production houses provide basic amenities such as laundry services and access to medical facilities 24 hours a day.

Non-celebrity contestants participating in reality shows do not receive payment. They only receive a certain amount if they win the show. Additionally, in non-celebrity reality shows, contestants do not receive any payment for their participation. They may only receive remuneration if they win the show. On the other hand, celebrities who participate in these reality shows are paid for each episode they appear in.

Rasesh Nageshwar

Hi there! I'm Rasesh Nageshwar, and I'm passionate to write about entertainment, movies, web series, and sports. As a writer, I love sharing my insights and opinions on the latest trends, news, and events in these exciting fields.