World on Fire is back on our screens at last!
Joining the cast of the BBC’s epic World War II drama this season is Ahad Raza Mir.
The 29-year-old actor has previously appeared in several television shows in Pakistan, as well as Netflix’s Resident Evil series last year.
Now the Pakistani-Canadian actor is playing Rajib in the brand new run of World on Fire.
Four years after Season 1 launched in 2019, we return to World on Fire in 1941, and the true reality of war has arrived in Britain. With RAF pilots being sent to destroy German bombers prowling the skies above Manchester, rescue operations are underway on the streets below.
Season 2 is airing now in the UK on Sunday nights at 9pm on BBC One and streaming on BBC iPlayer.
The new episodes of World on Fire will premiere in the US later this year on Masterpiece on PBS.
Here, Ahad Raza Mir chats about the role of the Sappers, filming with explosions on set, and Rajib’s friendship with Stan:
Who is Rajib?
“Rajib is an Indian officer in the British Army. He’s fearless and determined but a fairly complicated character who does everything by the book, sticks to the rules, a total military man.
“But as series two progresses, you see him realising that maybe what he thought was right – the place he was meant to be – isn’t that at all. It’s kind of heart-breaking what he goes through, especially when he comes up against racism, because he doesn’t really notice a person’s race.
“I genuinely think he feels he is the equal of everybody. Gradually he realises that something is not quite right – he’s not being treated the same as the Australians, for example. I mean, they were all part of the Commonwealth, right?
“So why is it that at the end of the day, small things, like rations are different for him and his men, from the white men?
“There’s this really thin line he’s treading where he has so much respect for the military, for the British, for the British Army, yet at the end of the day he’s fighting for his country by fighting for another country.
“I certainly knew very little about the campaign in North Africa before, and I really appreciate playing a fully fleshed-out character telling this important story.”
You appear in some really big set pieces in the desert – how did you find that?
“The fact that we had actual explosions happening on set was probably the most daunting bit of playing the part! I’ve worked with explosions before, but not at such close proximity.
“The moment someone shouts ‘action!’ you know something is about to go off and there’s going to be dust and dirt everywhere – so physically, it’s actually quite immersive especially when you find yourself breathing it all in. It certainly looks and feels authentic.”
Can you tell us about the Sappers and their role in clearing mines?
“The Sappers are essentially military engineers who handle explosives. My character is in charge of them. They’re the people who lay the minefields but also make sure that the path is clear for the rest of the troops to go out.
“It’s a kind of systematic racism as the sappers are taking all of those risks for the army, which is kind of symbolic in itself. But I think it’s interesting how that’s acknowledged very quickly in the first few episodes where Rajiv is speaking to his sergeant.”
Tell us about your character’s relationship with Stan?
“Rajib’s relationship with Stan is great and one of the more friendly relationships he has which develops as the series goes on.
“They share a kind of witty banter, two people from different cultures and different ranks but getting along as human beings. Those two have some very beautiful scenes together.”
Do you think Harry could learn from your character, and his great leadership skills?
“I think it depends on whether you lead with your head or your heart. Rajib tends to lead with his head until he senses that things are going wrong and starts to feel it in his heart.
“That’s why the decisions he makes start to change. Harry on the other hand leads with his heart the whole time. He wants to do the right thing, to be there for us.”
World on Fire is available to watch on PBS Masterpiece.