NEW DELHI: Chasing his dream of joining the Indian Army, 19-year-old Pradeep Mehra runs 10kms from his workplace in Noida sector-16 to his home in Barola village in Sector-49 after he finishes work at night to “practice” and “stay fit”.
On Monday, the teenager hailing from Uttarakhand’s Almora was the trend with television news channels all throughout the day. This was hours after a video shot by filmmaker Vinod Kapri of the boy running around midnight to his home and politely refusing Kapri’s offer to have a meal with him so that he doesn’t miss out on his practice went viral.
By Monday 8 pm, the video had garnered 8.2 million views with a wave of support coming in his favour from army officials, politicians and Bollywood celebrities praising Pradeep calling him “pure gold” for his conviction towards his goal and offering to support him and his family.
Pradeep could be seen telling Kapri in the video that while his mother is sick and is back home, he lives with his elder brother here in Noida and works at a McDonald’s outlet and gets some free time only past 11 pm to do some running and keep up his practice to be able to pursue his dream of joining the army. This was what he was doing after calling it a day at work at the fast-food joint when Kapri spotted him and filmed the video. “I am overwhelmed with the response I am receiving,” Pradeep said.
He said, “It may not be the best time or safe enough to practice at night, but that’s the only time I get during the day to pursue my training. For financial constraints, both me and my brother Pankaj, 21, had to shift to the city to work and send money home to help support our family.” He said that his mother has tuberculosis while his family doesn’t have the means to support her medical care.
Meanwhile, Kapri wrote on Twitter that he had spoken to the boy’s family and would want him to get good training to help him pursue his goal. Lieutenant General Satish Dua (Retired) also posted a tweet saying: “His Josh is commendable, and to help him pass the recruitment test on merit, I have interacted with colonel of Kumaon regiment.”