Acclaimed actress Sarwat Gilani has been named as the number one Pakistan based celebrity for 2020. The Churails star is the highest placed Pakistani in a first of its kind Top 50 Asian Celebrities In The World list, which is published by UK based Eastern Eye newspaper. She is ranked at number 21, ahead of global stars, including from Hollywood, the music industry, television, literature and social media, for her boundary-breaking performance in hit web serial Churails.
Eastern Eye entertainment editor Asjad Nazir, who put together the list explained that Sarwat’s performance is a big turning point in Pakistani popular culture and said: “The stunning turn from Sarwat Gilani smashed stereotypes, redefined the Pakistani leading lady and exuded the kind of girl power not seen before in the country. She along with other cast members have dragged Pakistani productions out of their comfort zone and into a new era, by bravely taking on their respective roles. Away from acting, she remained a positive role model throughout the year.”
The top 50 list celebrating Asian stars who shone the brightest in 2020, is based on those who did good work, made a positive impact, broke boundaries, shattered glass ceilings, gave hope, did philanthropic deeds or were just inspiring in their own unique way. There was also big public input as millions of posts were generated by social media users nominating their favourite star of the year.
Other Pakistanis in the list include Bilal Abbas Khan (28), Ali Zafar (39) and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (49). There were also plenty of international stars of Pakistani background in the top 50, including Zayn Malik (12), Riz Ahmed (15), Guz Khan (41), Iman Vellani (44), Hussain Manawer (46) and Karachi born Kumail Nanjiani (10).
Indian actor Sonu Sood topped the list for his inspiring philanthropic work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which started with helping stranded migrants get home and evolved into spectacular charitable work that included paying for surgeries, donating food, setting up scholarships, campaigning for women’s rights and buying a new tractor for a farmer, so his daughters could study and not plough a field. “Thank you, Eastern Eye, for recognising my efforts. As the pandemic broke, I realised it was my duty to help my countrymen, it was an instinct that came from within. Eventually, this was something I came to Mumbai for, it was my responsibility as an Indian which I did. think all the love of the people, which I
received was simply their wishes and prayers who I helped. Once again, I won’t stop till my last breath,” said Sonu Sood.
Canadian YouTuber, social media star, comedian and TV personality Lilly Singh came in second for her pathbreaking journey, remarkable output and entertaining audiences most when they needed it. Half-Indian British pop superstar Charli XCX was third for creating her masterpiece Mercury Music Prize nominated album How I Am Feeling Now, entirely during lockdown and British actor Dev Patel was fourth for his glass-ceiling shattering, colour-blind lead roles in The Personal History of David Copperfield and The Green Knight.
Indian singer Armaan Malik came in fifth for his immense musical output that included barrier breaking English language songs.
The youngest in the list is 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (22), who starred in successful Netflix series Never Have I Ever. The oldest is 78-year-old Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan (20), who once again did great work on film and TV, helped humanitarian causes, beat Covid-19 after contracting it and carried on destroying ageism. The highest placed author is the Booker Prize nominated Avni Doshi (31) and the highest ranked Bangladeshi is the country’s first comic icon and social media influencer Raba Khan (27).
Other celebrities in the 2020 list include Prabhas (7), Mindy Kaling (8), Surbhi Chandna (9), Ayushmann Khurrana (11), Geraldine Viswanathan (13), Diljit Dosanjh (14), Shehnaaz Gill (16), Pankaj Tripathi (23), Asim Riaz (25), Saloni Gaur (36), Steel Banglez (37), Dhvani Bhanushali (42), Helly Shah (47) and Anoushka Shankar (50). “Whether it was philanthropy, breaking boundaries, inspiring others, trending across social media, crossing new frontiers, creating really great work or inspiring a new generation, many South Asian stars shone brightly and became beacons of hope, during a crushing year when it was needed more than ever. They are celebrated in this list,” said Asjad Nazir.