A star daughter once looked amused as a newcomer rattled off his tale of woe. “If you really want to know what it’s like to be a struggling actor these days, ask me. All I’m doing is saving my ass.” he cried.  For him, and those like him, the tide has turned, and how! All these years, the ‘girls’ had to be careful of the casting couch. Now it’s the turn of the ‘boys’ thanks to the strong gay clique that’s allegedly running Bollywood.

It may be hush-hush and under the covers, but if you believe the young, struggling actors and a few established journalists, the gay clique actually exists. “A few actors and a bunch of filmmakers are part of this gay clique. They are all whizkids. And their names sell fast and furious at the box office. So not many even have the guts to expose them,” says Bharati Pradhan, film columnist and former editor of ‘Star and Style’.

Some names? It is alleged that both Rahul Roy and Shah Rukh Khan had to sleep around in the industry to get their breaks. Insiders allege that Rahul Roy was a big director’s ‘keep’ for a long time, while Shah Rukh Khan had to hit the sack with another producer to get his maiden role in the TV serial ‘Fauji’.

And if you think Salman Khan is fida over cat-eyed Aishwarya, forget it Dahlings! Rumours go around about his real true love: a dancer called Manoj who lives in Canada.

Now comes the nastiest, steamiest gossip of all…that both the Khans are secretly involved with some of the biggest names in the industry: Manish Malhotra, Karan Johar, Vivek Vaswani... Says a young actor, who was allegedly approached by one of the Khans, “The gay clique is very close knit and very rarely strays, except when one of them is really interested in a new comer.”

Some say that Karan Johar and Shah Rukh are a couple, while others have it that Manish Malhotra is involved with Akshay Kumar. There are rumours that Akshay Kumar and designer Rocky.S have been lovers for years, and when Rocky’s wife found out about it, she divorced him

As we mentioned earlier, the casting couch syndrome seems to have reversed. The boys are made to grant sexual favours too! Aftab Ahmed, a student of the acting school run by former actress Asha Sachdev, recounts an incident when a big time director-producer came up to him and suggestively said, “You want a role, I will give it to you. But you will have to pay a price for it. He was very explicit about his demands.”

The scared Aftab immediately went and reported this to Ashadidi (as they all call her). Says Asha Sachdev, “I called up the guy right away and told him to keep his hands off! It’s crazy, the kind of demands my students have to put up with. A lot of them have complained to me about how they were approached by a director or a producer. It’s disgusting. I always tell my boys to keep their distance, it’s not worth it.”

This is not to say that in Bollywood’s every corner, there are wolves lurking in sheep clothing. Just, that it pays to be a little more careful, especially if you are an aspiring young actor, and good looking to boot!