For film-maker Sean Ali, a fine line emerges between director and poseur

Published: November 26, 2011
Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Posters of some of the films Ali claims were sponsored and recognised internationally. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

A few months back I came to know about a film Fatima, which was a take on politician Fatima Jinnah’s life by young director Zuhair Ahmed, better known as Sean Ali. Surprisingly, even though he is a new name in the market, the film’s fan page and the cast members of Fatima stated that Ali had earlier been nominated at Festival de Cannes, apart from already winning nine international awards.

Feeling proud of a fellow Pakistani and wanting to know more, I went to Ali’s production house on Abul Hassan Isphani road, Karachi.

The forged Festival de Cannes letter

Ali introduced himself as the “only Pakistani film-maker to be nominated in Festival de Cannes”. Unable to match his high achievements to his almost non-existent popularity and young age, I inquired why the Pakistani media is were still unaware of such a creative genius? To which he confidently replied, “I just don’t like talking about myself. If you still want a clarification, I can show you the nomination letter from the  Festival de Cannes.”

The letter sent by Ali’s assistant talked about the director’s supposed film triumphstating, “The achiever has been nominated in the Court Metrage (short film) category.” However, the letter proved to be forged, as the reply from Christine Aimé representative at the Festival De Cannes press said, “You can consult the Short Film Corner website to search if a film is in the catalogues. I cannot find the film you mentioned. The letter attached is not a letter from the Festival de Cannes.”

BBC Radio 1 denies links

A poorly executed trailer of Fatima has been making rounds on social networking websites for quite some time now. Additionally, several posters have been uploaded mentioning the list of sponsors, cast and crew members and awards won by the 25-year-old director during his career.

Ali made many false claims, one being that BBC Radio 1 is an official media partner of Fatima. The Express Tribune shared the poster with BBC Radio 1 and the response received is, “To the best of my knowledge BBC Radio 1 has nothing to do with this project and we are not official radio partners of it,” says Chris the Content & Schedules Manager at Radio 1. “The logo they have used is not associated with BBC Radio 1 anymore. Quite flattered they have named us, it does seem a strange claim to make however.”

Universal collaborations with ‘Michael Ray’

Further elaborating, Ali professed that, “I’m also on the panel of board members of DreamWorks and Universal Pictures and all the films the two companies release go through the panel that includes me.” The Express Tribune was unable to contact DreamWorks and Universal Pictures to verify whether someone from Pakistan is a part of their panel of board members or not.

Ali, however, continued to speak about his concerns over the state of Pakistani cinema and how, after getting negative response from two big companies in Hollywood for his film, he decided to launch his own company.

Ali says he formed Universal Dream Pictures (UDP films) with his friend Michael Ray, whose name bears a strong similarity to film producer Michael Bay. Interestingly, UDP films exists only in the form of a Facebook fan page with 111 likes and no previous online record can be found for co-owner Ray. UDP company’s overview on Facebook says, “A company associated with Universal Pictures and Dream Works. Co-owners Michael Ray and Sean Ali have collaborated with John Jay, the two companies’ chief of operations in the US.”

Lionsgate comes in

In an earlier interview with The Express Tribune, the director had mentioned that Lionsgate films would be the exclusive distributors of Fatima. The trailer that is currently being shared on the fan page contains a custom-made Lionsgate logo animation with a warning from the Motion Picture Association of America. Even though Lionsgate did not respond to the official query by The Express Tribune, their official website that contains the list of upcoming releases till mid 2012 has no record of any film by the name of Fatima.

Film-making workshops

Ali is even conducting film-making workshops in Pakistan, with one of them receiving coverage by a private news channel recently. “I have come to Pakistan to teach the art of film-making,” says Ali. He has also contacted the dean of South Asian Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and TV (Saampt) Daniyal Ali Khan to collaborate on some workshops.

“Ali wanted to conduct a workshop on film-making but I told him that my students might be a notch above in skill. However, I asked him to explain them the process of participating in international film festivals; a request which made him disappear,” states Khan.

Sadly, people like Ali make the already fragile film industry look even less trust-worthy and make it difficult for those who are working hard to progress.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Beyg
    Nov 26, 2011 - 8:52PM

    proud of you Ali…. keep rockin.


  • Sajid
    Nov 26, 2011 - 8:58PM



  • Saad
    Nov 26, 2011 - 8:59PM

    Nobody knew him any way. Why go into details?But I must say I like his confidence :P :P :P


  • Nov 26, 2011 - 9:21PM

    Negative publicity is indeed publicity. Raafay, you just arranged that for SEAN ALI. :)


  • Bilal
    Nov 26, 2011 - 10:42PM

    This guy is a scam. He met me in a dj party and claimed that he’s from bbc. Lol. Very next day he offered me a film and told me all crap about nine awards and etc. Later, he formed a band and started covering other songs and acted like he’s singing to them. Check youtube and you would know. Lol
    This guy is such a liar. Well written.


  • Amna
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:37AM

    Good job Tribune!!!

    I tried to expose him and he started sending me ludicrous texts and challenging me for proving my allegations instead the other way round :)..I took him as a nonentity and thought of a right and free time to write about his false credentials. . I am glad that express tribune exposed him, sadly people fall for such small time scams but such elements need to be exposed no matter how small they play.


  • Amna
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:43AM

    He also claims to start a film academy…naive up starters in media need to be aware of such frauds…


  • Dureshahwar
    Nov 27, 2011 - 1:04AM

    Bravo, most awaited post till yet and stop praising him as a hero please give up with the reality as said “Jhoot ki umar lambi nai hoti.” We inquired a lot, i must say a lot about this man through Facebook Fan Page and Event Page all they end up with is deleting the post every time and at last calling up my friend to settle on the issue as it is of no use to urge it. He actually charged 500/- ( per student for a workshop that never took place and when getting a 2 min clip on TV caused more deeper research all that came out was his own optimized content on Google, Wikipedia and Facebook. Please also make sure that if he is grandson to any Pakistani Actress :/


  • Osama
    Nov 27, 2011 - 1:35AM

    @Beyg: really? keep rocking? or keep lying? i’d go with keep scamming as @Bilal mentioned.


  • rafay pardesi pmr admin
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:10AM

    we PAKMEDIAREVOLUTION.NET (PMR) WAS not part of fatima sean ali just misused our logo…


  • Nov 27, 2011 - 3:11AM

    LOL at the gradient used in the font !! Thats like in the first 5 you see when you open photoshop. Always looking a fake when such efforts are done on the poster.


  • Nov 27, 2011 - 3:14AM

    He even used our PMR’s logo, even we denied to work with them! Fatima is not his first fake movie, before that he was trying to make ‘Zoya’ lmao. He called 82rocker, Omer Nadeem and Zeeshan Khakwani for the music of the movie , also offering music videos in the end we found all this fake! Huh loser manRecommend

  • Nov 27, 2011 - 9:43AM

    Plz come guys and watch the film must :) releasing on 20th January thanks


  • Nov 27, 2011 - 11:24AM

    Shameful scam artist….and that too exploiting Fatima Jinnah’s name for his movie…


  • Pakistani in US
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:26PM

    The first time I saw trailer for Fatima I knew something was up. These Hollywood studios here sometimes takes months and year to green light a project, even with big directors. And this guy who is a virtual a nobody was claiming that Liongate Films is producing this movie (that has “seven” trailers with production quality even worse than film student projects). And then his fake ‘Universal Dream Picture’ company that can so conveniently be confused with Universal Pictures, Ltd by people who don’t know much about film business. I also checked his FB page and he claims to be on panel of universal pictures. Are you KIDDING me?!? I have friends who have been PAs in Dreamworks, Paramount and Universal for years after graduating from NYU and USC film school and this guy is on the board with no credentials! He would seriously be behind bars if he had tried to pull this off in US.


  • Pakistani in US
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:33PM

    I seriously can’t get over the fact that he is claiming to be on Board of Directors for Universal Pictures, HA! Has he ever seen a ‘suit’ in his life? You need some sort of believability factor especially when pulling off a scam.


  • Pakistani in US
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:03PM

    This guy writes everything with title case (capital letter for every word), which is probably expected from grade-1 students but not from someone of his stature (especially since he claims to have lived all his life in Canada in Fm93 interview). I mentioned this because I also found a fake article that he wrote about himself and published it as a third party. t’s full of BS about how he is being compared with Shoiab Mansoor after BOL. I fell off my chair reading this self praise. It;s funny that a canadian educated, member of Board of Directors/Universal Pictures, a featured artist of SONY BMG, and CEO of Sean Group of Companies apparently doesn’t know how to write proper English. Worst con artist ever!


  • AsliShasli
    Nov 27, 2011 - 6:00PM

    Let me tell you what he will be doing with this news story, in a month or so he will add following lines to his resume: Express Tribune provided coverage to Sean Ali for his successful endeavors and achievements.
    He is a fake and you know it in less than 5minutes of meeting him.


  • sameer
    Nov 27, 2011 - 6:17PM

    yea people he organized Gtg in zamzama coffee day.. n when we go theri to check them pplz in cafe say the don’t know if their is any kinda GTG going to b happen. then news is that.. firing on scene ali’s car so he couldn’t able to make it to the event….


  • Mr Gabool
    Nov 27, 2011 - 8:05PM

    Go to his house with some media and you will know that he made the fake press cards to fool the people n the police with his color printerRecommend

  • sameer
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:17AM try to fine Sean here


  • Nov 28, 2011 - 4:36AM

    Glad someone talked about this. I’ve been seeing him doing this for the past two years. It got worse when I saw him getting coverage in the papers.


  • Tanvir
    Nov 28, 2011 - 5:43PM

    Same as the case with JOSH FM 99. We were in discussion with the Director and team for barter deal but failed and end up with nothing. Sean couldnt prove his acclaimed achievements and legal documents of dealing with LGF & other notable names. JOSH FM 99 did cover its inauguration event in a small room of introducing cast & crew of Fatima. It was the first and final day of JOSH FM 99s appearance with Sean Ali. Furthermore, JOSH has communicated to stop using their brand name and logo as its illegal.


  • Sean Ali is dead
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:39AM

    lol now I see Pakistani dailies up to something catch!


  • Faheem
    Nov 30, 2011 - 11:27PM

    i personally met this guy and i discover him fake (cant mention the details how)


  • Dec 4, 2011 - 12:56PM

    at J4JUMPY.NET he asked a year back to me that he wants us to produce/compose a song for obe of his film an di quoted 10lacs for complete films sound tracks and backgrund score and right after this quotation he vanished … hehehe oh ya i remebr he told film budget is around 50 crores but couldnt arrange 10 lacs for music … bullocks


  • Hamid Ali
    Dec 5, 2011 - 8:33PM

    Please do the next feature on producer of pakistani film waar, Hassan Waqas Rana. He is a similar character who has been fooling around with everyone, from his cast to technical staff. Sean Ali and producer of waar have a lot of common features.. the later uses Warner Bros. name everywhere. A serial name dropper who tries to impress people with non existent contacts. He is Obama and Zardari’s best buddy, Warner Bros. is dying to distribute his film (which has faced severe delays and cast issues) but he is still looking for suitable distributors. He offered an acquaintance to distribute his film (duh, warner bros. is not up to his standard?) Few friends have visited his studio and they all tell the same story


  • Student of Mr. Rana (Waar producer)
    Dec 5, 2011 - 10:33PM

    Lol I agree with Hamid Ali. Since my first interaction with him at Bahria university, I always thought he would make it to the news someday for lying. I was rolling on the floor when I read about him making a movie and warner bros releasing his film, I guess that day is not far away. He has been making false promises with some young musicians of Isb i personally know. I pity people who are working with him :p


  • xyz
    Dec 6, 2011 - 1:53AM

    omg I had heard of Fatima the film.. Fake media cards? hahaha are you guys serious? how can he use logos without letting the concerned authorities know, what was he thinking..each comment added more to the story and LOL @ Bayg, Hamid Ali & Student of Waar producer, another interesting feature on its way ;)Recommend

  • Hassan Waqas Rana
    Dec 6, 2011 - 1:57AM

    Hamid Ali !! I will send NATO army after you, you don’t know how influential i am


  • chandar chor
    Dec 6, 2011 - 2:06AM

    Now that’s what you call NEWS !!! Good job Rafay


  • Zohaib Ali
    Dec 6, 2011 - 11:17PM

    hahaha BUSTED. i say ban such people and never ever let them work. Kindly write an article on Jalaluddin Roomi’s music video rip off’s. Almost all his music videos are copied rip off’s. Remember his copied video of Ali Khan’s Saathiya? Recommend

  • Musaa
    Jan 3, 2012 - 4:43PM

    does this ARTICLE WORKS ?? does MEDIA respond ??? any1 took any action AGAINST of ZUHAIR AHMED known as SEAN ALI KHAN ??? is he BANNED now ???
    many questions
    as per to his FB PAGES… he is still working


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