My world has changed overnight: Midnight runner Pradeep Mehra

Updated on Mar 22, 2022 08:48 PM IST

A single viral video has made Pradeep Mehra, a 19-year-old, a household name overnight. The boy never expected that the video would make him so popular that people will chase him for selfies!  

19-year-old, Pradeep Mehra, whose full name is Pushkar Singh Mehra became an internet sensation after his video went viral. (Photo: Manish Rajput/HT )
19-year-old, Pradeep Mehra, whose full name is Pushkar Singh Mehra became an internet sensation after his video went viral. (Photo: Manish Rajput/HT )
By, New Delhi

Name: Pradeep Mehra AKA: Midnight Runner Age: 19 Occupation: Employed at McDonald’s, Noida Dream: Join the Indian Army

His phone doesn’t stop ringing for a minute, there’s media gathered outside his house, and he has appointments fixed with top government officials who are keen to meet him. A single viral video has made Pradeep Mehra, a 19-year-old Indian Army aspirant, a household name overnight. Shot by filmmaker Vinod Kapri, Mehra’s midnight run video received an overwhelming response on social media as soon as it was uploaded.

The boy never expected that the video would make him such an internet sensation that people will chase him for selfies!  Mehra is often forced to enter from the back door to escape the crowd that is gathered outside the fast food outlet in Noida where he is employed.  In a conversation with HT City, he recalls his growing up years, passion for Indian Army and his newly found stardom. 

How has life changed after the viral video?

It happened so suddenly...I still can’t believe it. Not even in my dreams I expected my video to go viral. People are chasing me for pictures and reels!  My world has changed overnight! People are walking up to me and asking for selfies! I feel shy. 

How are you dealing with all the attention?

Who doesn’t like attention? But you enjoy it more when you have spare time. However, I am busy running errands, so non-stop calls are overwhelming. I am reporting late to my office because of this,” says Mehra, who is making sure not to take off his mask even for a second when he is outside. “I don’t take my mask off fearing that I will be chased by a crowd. I don’t know how to handle people. When they say, bhai Pradeep lage rehna, it does feel good, but I don’t know what to say, so I just nod.”   

So, how are you managing time?

My brother Pankaj and cousin Govind have been taking care of my schedule ever since the video went viral. I am hardly getting any time. They are coordinating for me. There are back to back media interviews. Even while I was returning from the DM’s office, a news channel from Uttarakhand was interviewing me in the car. My phone is flooded with messages but I have no time to check and respond. 

Any update on your mother’s health?

My mother hasn’t been well for a while. She has an infection in her blood and has been admitted to the hospital. Today, when I visited the District Magistrate’s office, I was assured that authorities will help me with my mother’s treatment. I am happy that she will get proper treatment. 

When did you start running?

I have been running every night for the past one month. I run from Sector-16, Noida to Barola. Due to my busy work schedule, I don’t find time to workout, so running from office to work helps me save money and keeps me fit and healthy. 

Where are you from?

I am from Almora District, Uttarakhand. We are a small family, my mother, father and two siblings. It has been two months since I came to Delhi.

Why do you want to join the Army?

It’s my passion to serve our country. I have seen many people in my village joining the Indian Army and it’s a proud moment for the family and entire village. For the last two years, there has been no recruitment in the Indian Army due to Covid. I am practising everyday so that I can join the Army. I love to watch movies based on the Indian Army. My favourite is Border (1997).  

Could you tell us more about your family background?

My brother and I work here (Noida) to help our family. We have struggled a lot financially. We have a single-room house in our hometown, which we were able to build after much hard work. We had to come here to earn a decent livelihood. My father, who is dealing with mental illness, still lives in Almora.

What about your education?

Due to the financial constraints that my family has been facing, I couldn’t study after class 12th. I completed my schooling from my village itself. 

What keeps you going?

I have faced many struggles in my life, have seen worse times but I never gave up. Aur jahan tak rahi Army ki baat, woh toh khud hi mehnat karni hogi. I have a long way to go. Now, I feel even more determined to fulfill my dream as the entire country is standing by me.


    Ruchika Garg writes on Art and Culture, for the daily Entertainment & Lifestyle supplement, HT City

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