Now Reading
The Tragic Story of Reena Virk: Hulu’s True Crime Series ‘Under The Bridge’ Delves Into the Murder of Indo-Canadian Teenager

The Tragic Story of Reena Virk: Hulu’s True Crime Series ‘Under The Bridge’ Delves Into the Murder of Indo-Canadian Teenager

  • Seattle-based actress Vritika Gupta plays Reena Virk alongside Riley Keough, Lilly Gladstone, Ezra Faroque Khan and Archie Panjabi.

A new true crime drama on Hulu delves into the murder of an Indo-Canadian teenager more than 25 years ago. “Under The Bridge” explores the real-life events surrounding the disappearance and death of 14-year-old Reena Virk who was swarmed and beaten under a bridge in Saanich, a suburb of Victoria, British Columbia, by a group of teenagers on Nov. 14, 1997. 

The limited series is based on a 2005 book “Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk,” by Rebecca Godfrey. Apart from the novel, showrunners Quinn Shephard and Samir Mehta also “drew from “Reena: A Father’s Story,” a  memoir of Reena’s father, Manjit Virk,” according to The Wrap. “We optioned his book and spoke with him as well, to get some of his personal stories. He was very open with us.”

In an interview with Elle, Mehta explained the vision for the show, which displays how peer pressure can warp one’s ability to make decisions. “Our shorthand in the room was that the show is Eighth Grade meets The Sopranos,” he said. “And in some ways, the experience of being in middle school and how exclusive it can feel and how cruel being ostracized [is] can feel like you’re dealing with a gang.” 

Vritika Gupta, who plays the Indo-Canadian teen Reina Virk.

“Under The Bridge” follows Rebecca Godfrey (Riley Keough), a writer who travels home to Victoria Falls in hopes of penning a novel about the children who live there. Shortly after her arrival, a teenager named Reena Virk goes missing. Godfrey becomes invested in the case and teams up with Cam Bentland (Lilly Gladstone), a local cop who’s just as eager to solve the mystery. 

Since its April 17 release, the series has been getting positive reviews. Decider notes that it has “more than enough complications to make for compelling drama, and the first episode gives viewers just enough information about the case to hook them in without getting them frustrated.”

Seattle-based actress Vritika Gupta plays Reena Virk, along with Ezra Faroque Khan and Archie Panjabi, who play her parents —— Manjit and Suman. Other cast includes Chloe Guidry, Javon Walton, Izzy G., and Aiyana Goodfellow.

Gupta got her first professional role playing in the 2018 short film “Let It Slide.” She’s mostly performed in short films. Her biggest role to date is Wren Garner in the 2022 horror movie “Cross Hollow.” She won the Best Child/Young Actress award at Indie Short Fest in 2022 for “American Halloween.”

A review of the series in The Wrap notes that “Gupta gives Reena an air of expectancy that endears the girl from first close-up.” Her “open demeanor throughout ‘Under the Bridge’ makes Reena’s eventual fate all the more heartbreaking in signifying her lack of life experience and by extension, lack of opportunity to become a full-fledged person.”

The ‘Shy’, ‘Yearning’ South Asian Teen

Reena rebelled against her parents frequently, Godfrey wrote in an article for Vox in 2017. She described her as “a shy, yearning, 14-year-old South Asian girl with broad shoulders and uneasy eyes.” She “painted her nails blue and listened to the Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy in her uncle’s car,” Godfrey wrote, adding that Reena was “vulnerable and tender and daring.” The family were Jehovah’s Witnesses, the way Reena’s mother, Suman, was raised, making them a minority in their neighborhood, which consisted of mostly Sikh Indian Canadians.

Reena is described as “a shy, yearning, 14-year-old South Asian girl with broad shoulders and uneasy eyes.” 

At the time of her death, Reena was in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development “after falsely accusing her father of physically assaulting her in order to escape the strict rules in her home,” CBC News reported, citing Manjit Virk’s 2008 memoir “Reena: A Father’s Story.” She later recanted her accusation.When the Virk family “tried to sue the ministry over their daughter’s death, the court threw out the claim, saying they had waited too long to make it,” the CBC report added.

In his book, Manjit Virk “criticized the legal system for removing Reena from the family home amid her false sexual abuse allegations, as well as the trials following her death,” as reported by CBC News. “I think people have to also see that any normal family, no matter how they try hard to keep their family intact, they can be derailed by this system,” he told CBC News. “I think that’s what has happened here and I hope others can find something about the book that they can use in their lives.” He and his wife spent their time creating awareness about bullying. Suman died at the age of 58 in June 2018, after choking while eating at a cafe, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The ‘Shoreline Six’

On Nov. 14, 1997, Reena was invited to a party under a bridge in Saanich by a group of her peers — the “Shoreline Six.” During the get-together, the group beat her severely. After she tried escaping, two of them followed and killed her.

See Also

According to the book “Under The Bridge,” Reena allegedly stole a phonebook from Nicole Cook and called her friends, telling them that “Cook had fake breasts, wore colored contact lenses and had AIDS.” Additionally, a report in The Globe and Mail, Reena was also rumored to be involved with one of the girls’ boyfriends. In the book, she was “described as being in a relationship with the boy in question and wearing his black-and-white Adidas jacket,” the report said. 

Once she reached the bridge, Cook confronted Reena, asking why she was spreading rumors about her. In the 2009 MSNBC News special, “Bloodlust Under the Bridge, Cook claimed that Reena called her “a bitch,” prompting Cook to put a cigarette out on Reena’s forehead. Cook and Pleich said that Cook’s best friend, Kelly Ellard, and Pleich both began hitting and kicking Reena and then the rest of the group, including Warren Glowatski, joined in.

The Ellard and  Glowatski followed Reena when she staggered away from the group and kept attacking her. The Globe and Mail reported that Glowatski testified that Ellard held Reena underwater until Reena drowned. A coroner’s report obtained by Vice indicated that Reena sustained multiple blows throughout her body and suffered a “convulsion injury as often seen in car crash victims.”

When Reena failed to return to her foster home in time for her curfew on Friday night, it wasn’t considered unusual because of her history  of running away from home, investigators said on Real Time. But by Monday, rumors began circulating at her school, and police started investigating the case more seriously. The found her body on Nov. 22, 1997, eight days after she was killed. According to Godfrey’s piece for Vice, police found Reena’s jacket in Ellard’s closet with saltwater stains on it consistent with water from the Gorge where Reena’s body was found, but Ellard claimed it was her own. 

Several other teens told police that Ellard and Glowatski were the ones who ultimately killed Reena, and eventually, Glowatski confessed to the slaying Glowatski was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison with a chance at parole after seven years served, CBC News reported. He openly expressed remorse and participated in restorative justice programs, including one in which he apologized in person to Reena’s parents. He was granted day parole in 2007 and full parole in 2010, The Globe and Mail reported. 

Similarly, Ellard was charged with second-degree murder. In 2000, she was convicted in adult criminal court, CBC News reported, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. A second trial ended in a mistrial, followed by a third trial in which Ellard was convicted again. Her subsequent appeal attempts were overturned, and she began serving her prison sentence in 2005.

According to People magazine, the remaining members of the Shoreline Six “pleaded guilty to assault but denied involvement with or responsibility for her killing, saying they “left the bridge after the initial attack.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 American Kahani LLC. All rights reserved.

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
Scroll To Top