The pop star, actor and composer was number one in a list largely dominated by celebrities from India and narrowly beat two-time winner Hrithik Roshan into second place in what turned out to be the closest race of all time.
Other Pakistanis in the list are Atif Aslam (22), Actor Fawad Khan (number 25) and VJ turned Model Feroz Khan (36).
Zafar, who has graduated from annually being the highest placed Pakistani in the list to becoming the sexiest Asian man on the planet, was clearly taken aback by the win, saying: “I am very flattered and never expected to be given this title. I still don’t know how I made it onto this list let alone top it, but would like to thank all those who voted for me from the bottom of my heart.”
Eastern Eye showbiz editor Asjad Nazir, who compiles the hugely popular annual list and is chairman of the judging panel, said: “Such was the volume of votes received from different continents, that the star of hit film ‘Chashme Baddoor’ and soon to be released comedy ‘Total Siyapaa’ was trending worldwide across Twitter. This is something that has never happened before and showed that Ali is arguably the biggest global celebrity Pakistan has right now. As a composer, musician and actor he is also one of the most talented. He has cracked Bollywood and there will be very little to stop him from making a significant mark in the west.”
The other very big surprise of the 2013 list was Indian actor Barun Sobti, who rose seven places from last year to third place on the list, despite being off-screen since he left hit TV serial ‘Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon?’ to pursue a movie career in 2012. Sobti led a burgeoning group of television stars that are clearly giving their film contemporaries a run for their money in this year’s list. These included Kushal Tandon (9), Gurmeet Choudhary (11), Karan Singh Grover (13), Rithvik Dhanjani (15), Salman Yussuf Khan (20), Gautam Rode (23), Vivian D’Sena (24), Eijaz Khan (42) and Karan Wahi (46).
Nazir comments on the growing impact and popularity of stars from the small screen: “There were more TV stars in the top 50 than ever before and this continuing emergence showed that they are catching up fast to the dominant Bollywood heroes. They are playing a much bigger part in the lives of people and that probably explains why so many film stars use television to promote their movies. It also explains why movie producers are now signing up TV stars.”
Like last year the highest placed Pakistani was once again Ali Zafar (1), the highest placed British star was One Direction band member Zayn Malik (8) and the highest placed sportsman was Indian cricket star Virat Kohli (10). Actor Sushant Singh Rajput (18) rounded off a dream year by becoming the highest placed newcomer in the list.
Other notable names in the list included Shahid Kapoor (4), Salman Khan (5), Ranbir Kapoor (6), Sidharth Malhotra (12), Shah Rukh Khan (14), Jay Sean (17), singer Arjun (25), Karan Tacker (28), Varun Dhawan (35) and Mohit Raina (50).
2013’s full list is published in UK’s most popular weekly newspaper Eastern Eye on December 13.