I believe that when reality shows first came on screen, they were popular and believable. But now, since there are so many, no wait... “TOO MANY” reality shows on-air, there is no realism anymore.
Some of the first reality shows to come to India were Bournvita Quiz Contest in 1992, followed by Antakshari in 1993, Boogie Woogie in 1994, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 1995 and so on.
These were original concepts, not copied from the west. They had the required REALISM and hence got immense love from the audience.
But with the changing times, there's been a huge lack of transparency especially in the talent based reality shows that require public voting for the progress of the contestants, these include Bigg Boss, Dance India Dance, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Nach Baliye, etc.
And since we’ve come to this point, the most popular reality show that comes to my mind when I associate the word ‘scripted’ with it is Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.
Over the years this show has proven that it is indeed rigged. They make it a point to make a non-dancer win every season no matter how well of a performer the other finalist is. Or if not that, there is always a person closely associated with the channel who wins the show. I remember reading an interview of Juhi Chawla (who has judged a season of JDJ) admitting that the show is indeed scripted.
Then there’s this show called Roadies, which again is said to be highly scripted. The winner here is decided on the basis of popularity. Why else would a guy who has been voted out will make a come back to win the show unless they want him to? All those fights and drama is only to grab some eyeballs. Interviews are real but they choose only those who can provide “content”.
It's unfortunate that the Producers/Channels think that the audience is foolish enough to not understand or pick on the fact that reality is truly missing from these so called reality shows. Creatives of any show have to realise it's not the spice that makes up a show, but the simplicity...
However, shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati, where public voting is not required, seem to have relatively less scope for being scripted. There are times when even the host of KBC, Mr. Bachchan, tries to subtly guide a contestant, but I think it is a part of the format of the show.
There is an absolute scarcity of creativity in our reality shows. The makers just want to play safe and follow what has already worked in the West and have no concern what so ever with reality.
P.S- How I wish we had taken inspiration from shows like Oprah Winfrey and The Ellen DeGeneres Show instead. Just imagine how awesome would that be.