Mir Zafar Ali First Pakistani Champion of Oscar Awards

By Mahjabeen Malik

Mir Zafar Ali is a pride of Pakistan.  He has won three-time Oscar Awards for his excellent performance in his work. He is a visual movie effects artist. Only in six years, at the age of 38 years, he succeeded in winning 3 Oscar Awards; it is truly a great achievement.

Childhood and Early Education

Mir Zafar Ali was born in Karachi and got early education from Beacon House School Karachi. After O’level, he got admission in A’level where he has to study science subject like every student in the class. But Ali was not interested in science subjects thus after the examination of A’level, he got admission in FAST, Karachi to learn computer science. Ali was fond of science-fiction and fantasy-movies in his childhood while Jurassic Park was his real source of inspiration. During an interview, Ali told, “Studying computer science seemed like the most logical step because I was best at Math and Sciences but in my last year at FAST, I realized I wasn’t fit for regular software engineering.”

Academic Journey

Ali changed his direction into AutoCAD and 3d studio max classes, which “pretty much sealed the deal.” He worked patiently looking for a regular software engineering job after graduating and instead took a short course in sculpture at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and started looking for jobs in 3d animation. He is luckiest one to land at “Sharp Image”, one of the best visual secure and post-production houses in Pakistan. With the special support and encouragement of his family, he went to Hollywood to Join Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), for BFA programming in July 1999. At the last section of SCAD, one of his professors named Garman Harigstad appreciated his work and told him about an entry-level visual fix artist position at Digital Domain.

Professional Life

Mir Zafar Ali started working from Karachi and he worked on numerous commercials from Safeguard to pesticides in farmlands. Despite the fact, he never liked spring as most of the commercials are designed for such damn pesticides.

Ali piled up a demo roll of his best work on projects at SCAD and sent it over. Two weeks after, he was on his way to Los Angeles to work on The Day After Tomorrow. But in the US, Ali remained jobless for two weeks even after receiving an Oscar Award on the tremendous success of Life of Pi and The Golden Compass.  A well-established company “Rhythm & Hues” where Ali was working was filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Ali was dismissed from the job but this layoff proves to be blessing for Ali as he was offered a good job from Disney where he worked on Frozen and it leads him to his second successive Oscar Award. On his consecutive winning of Oscar Award Mir Zafar Ali said, “The timing worked out perfectly for me.”


Film industry recognized the effort of Mir Zafar Ali a Pakistani artist of effect animation. The industry selected his name three times for Oscar Award. For the Walt Disney Animation Studios, Frozen was the first kind of animation movie. This musical fantasy-comedy film successfully defeated the Lion King and Toy Story 3 and has become the highest-earning animated film in history. It is considered among the top 10 biggest movies, for instance, Star Wars, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

First Oscar Award: In 2008, Ali achieved the first Oscar Award on his excellent performance for The Golden Compass. He attended the ceremony along with his wife Tamanna Shah.

Second Oscar Award:  In 2012, Mir Zafar Ali won the second Oscar Award for visual effects for the Life of Pi, a movie based on Yann Martel’s acclaimed novel.

Third Oscar Award: In 2014, Ali obtained the Oscar Award on the success of “Frozen” film. Ali takes a special interest in recreating natural phenomena like water, fire, destruction and snow as well as visually recreating fantasy.

Names of the Movies Mir Zafar Ali has worked on

  • 2013 Frozen
  • 2013 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
  • 2012 Life of Pi
  • 2012 The Cabin in the Woods
  • 2011 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
  • 2011 X-Men: First Class
  • 2011 Hop
  • 2010 Yogi Bear
  • 2009 Aliens in the Attic
  • 2009 Land of the Lost
  • 2008 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
  • 2008 The Incredible Hulk
  • 2007 The Golden Compass
  • 2007 Surf’s Up
  • 2007 Spider-Man 3
  • 2007 Ghost Rider
  • 2006 Open Season
  • 2006 Monster House
  • 2005 Stealth
  • 2004 The Day After Tomorrow

Pride of Pakistan

Mir Zafar Ali has become the pride of Pakistan for his effortless dedication with his work. We, being Pakistani, feel pride in his achievements. Dear readers, we all can achieve that much success with great concentration and dedication. It is truly, “Hard work is the key to success”. We must be honest with our work and do the best for the betterment of our life and the welfare of our nation.

Most of the people mistakenly consider that Sharmeen Obaid is the first Pakistani for winning Oscar Award as media gave coverage to Sharmeen Obaid. But Mir Zafar Ali, the first Oscar Award winner, has been ignored by the media and remained anonymous.  Sharmeen Obaid is the second Oscar Award winner; however, they both make Pakistan proud.