The young runner spotted by filmmaker Vinod Kapri has become something of a national sensation, after his midnight run video picked up speed on Sunday evening.

While driving in Noida, 49-year-old Kapri spotted 19-year-old Pradeep Mehra running with a backpack on his shoulders. Confused, Kapri asked the young man why he was running, and he was soon treated to a humbling story of resilience and perseverance.

Meet Pradeep Mehra

In the video, the filmmaker proceeds to ask Mehra a series of questions — all of which he answers while keeping up with the vehicle.

Initially, Kapri expresses surprise and learns that Mehra is running home from his workplace — a McDonalds franchise located at Sector 16, Noida. After declining Kapri’s offer of a lift, he explains that his main reason for running is tied to his physical fitness and the he aims to join the Indian Army one day.

Originally from Uttarakhand, Mehra’s situation is equal parts inspiring as it is heartbreaking. When Kapri attempts to offer him a ride once again, he brushes it off stating that his early morning responsibilities leave him unable to run at any other time. These include helping support his hospitalized mother, and cook for his brother, who works a night shift.

While Mehra’s story is indicative of several social issues faced by young Indians, it didn’t take long for local news outlets to snap up the story; a reaction that left Kapri upset, as News18 Uttar Pradesh brought Mehra into their studio:

This naturally led to an uproar on social media, from both citizens and journalists alike:

Other citizens and researchers sparked conversations around the ‘romanticization’ of the struggles of Uttarakhand’s disadvantaged youth:

Finally, some sat on the fence, moved by Mehra’s story while still acknowledging the deep-rooted difficulty in procuring jobs, medication, and other necessities for people in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

(Featured Image Credits: @vinodkapri)