"Money is a major factor for TV actors to go in for reality shows. They involve fewer days of commitment and are a source of quick money," Abhishek Awasthi, a participant on STAR Plus' "Zara Nachke Dikha", said over phone from Mumbai.
Abhishek was first known just as item girl Rakhi Sawant's boyfriend and later the two took part in dance show "Nach Baliye". After they broke up, Abhishek slowly made a name for himself through SAB TV's comedy show "Jugni Chali Jalandhar". But now he is back to a dance reality show, which incidentally has Rakhi too.
"I have done two dance reality shows and I must mention I have learnt a lot from both of them. A number of the dance forms I know today were taught in the shows. And after 'Jugni...', I needed a break. Plus, this was good money," Abhishek added.
According to industry sources, actors are paid a package of Rs.200,000 upward for reality shows depending on their popularity. On the other hand they are paid anything between Rs.2,000 and Rs.80,000 on a per day shooting basis for TV soaps.
Actor Apurva Agnihotri, best remembered as the goodlooking boss in "Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin", has also participated in reality shows but admits that they "spoil" actors.
"I think reality shows have spoilt TV actors. The shows offer quick and easy money with less commitment. So if you are popular on TV and want to earn good money, go for reality shows," said Apurva, who was seen in shows like "Nach Baliye" and "Pati Patni Aur Woh".
For many of these actors, reality shows are often a window to display their real self to the audience. For instance, bold actress Kashmera Shah got a chance to show her humorous side through Imagine TV's recently concluded "Desi Girl".
"Before 'Desi Girl' no one knew I'm a funny person, but at least after the show audiences know I can make people laugh the same way as my boyfriend Krushna (Abhishek) does," said Shah, who was the runner-up in the show.
Aamir Ali, who leads the boys' team in the ongoing show "Zara Nachke Dikha", shares the same sentiments.
"In a daily soap I am not myself, I am portraying a character but in a reality show I am myself and they are a window to present oneself to the audience," said Aamir, who had won the third season of dance show "Nach Baliye" with girlfriend Sanjeeda Sheikh.
However, he says the satisfaction that an actor gets out of a daily soap or a movie can never be compared to reality shows.
"I prefer daily soaps because no matter what...at the end I am an actor and this is what my identity is. Doing daily soaps gives me satisfaction and a sense of stability," he said.
At times, actors and celebrities give their nod to such shows to kill time. Filmmaker Sajid Khan, who was earlier a chat show host, will be back on TV as a judge on the second season of Colors' "India's Got Talent".
"I was offered many shows. But I had only a fixed period of time that I was free because I want to start working on my new project by the year end. So I said yes to 'India's Got Talent'. It's nice that I will keep busy," said Sajid.