It is easy to spot Thanuja Ananthan; at 1.82m and that noticeably big hair, she’s hard to miss. Up close, you’ll see why the beautiful lass was crowned Miss Malaysia World in 2009.
This beauty is also compassionate, especially when it comes to animals. Just the night before this meeting, she was up until 3am nursing a dog she rescued.
“It had jumped outside a shelter. It’s tail is burnt off. It’s cute,” she tells us before listing out the other animals she has at home. “I have six cats, one is mostly burnt. One doesn’t have a leg. One doesn’t have an eye. All my animals are rescued animals. I have a rescued turtle. I have rescued rabbits.”
When Thanuja she sees an animal in distress, she feels the need to help the hurt creature.
She shares that her parents have come to accept that it’s part of her and her sister’s nature to lend a helping hand to animals. Both Thanuja and her identical twin, Anuja, often go out of their ways to help an animal since young.
Thanuja says: “I cannot be without animals. It’s very fulfilling. Eventually I think I will live on a safari in Kenya and help with the rescuing and rehabilitation.”
For now, the 30-year-old is keeping busy with emcee jobs, hosting gigs and modelling. And, for the first time, she is giving acting a shot too.
Her debut role is in Temuan Takdir, where she plays a model turned businesswoman, who falls for the film’s bad guy.
“I was a bit nervous,” she recalls about her first day on set. “But the film had a good team and I kind of play myself, a model and beauty queen. I only had to be careful to tone down my own boisterous and loud personality. That was challenging but I had a lot of fun.”
Never one to keep still, Thanuja is also taking part in the Star Media Group’s Anak-Anak Malaysia Walk happening on Aug 14.
Also within her schedule is looking after her two new business ventures – a skincare line called Euth Plus and photography/event company called Fuzed Digital Aesthetics.
“It’s a grooming class for models, catwalk and beauty pageant for any young girls who want to come and learn with me.”
1. Why did it take so long for you to enter the acting field?
I’ve had film opportunities come my way. But I have been very particular about my first role. I got a chance to act in a Kollywood movie with Dhanush, a few years back, but the character was the same old, same old, so I didn’t do it. I don’t want to be stereotyped as just someone’s wife or girlfriend. So, I was careful about that. Also I have been busy with hosting and emceeing, that I never had the time to think about filming a movie until this one.
2. How identical are you and your sister, and can you share instances when you both were up to mischief?
We look quite identical, but if you know us well, you can tell the difference. If we’re styled the same, from make up to hair, we look the same.
When we were younger, we were the only ones allowed to wear blue stud and red stud earrings in school because no one could tell us apart.
When we were in secondary school, my mum asked the teachers to put us in separate classes because we were so dependent. In Form Four, we decided to switch classes for one period. I went to her class and she came into mine.
But the boys in her class started giving me away. I just acted dumb. After class, we were called in by the disciplinary teacher.
“So you two exchanged classes, eh?” I said “No, we didn’t.” I was very opinionated (laughs). We each got caned on our palms.
We tried to trick our boyfriends as well. They can tell us apart of course. They better! They can’t tell us apart when we’re on the phone though.
3. How challenging was it to make it in the beauty world?
It wasn’t easy. I am the first pure Indian Miss Malaysia. When I came on, I received a lot of flak such as, “Beautiful face, but too much of hair!”
Discrimination left, right and centre.
But I stuck to my guns. This is who I am. I believe in myself, and worked hard. Today I am known for my big hair.
I have received offers from a skin whitening brand, but I never took it on.
I never did anything to change … I was adamant to prove people wrong. The more people said this cannot work for me, the more I insisted it can. I will work hard to prove you otherwise. Which is what I did.
4. Is it true you speak many languages?
I am a Malayalee. So I know Malayalam. I can speak conversational Tamil. I was brought up by an Indonesian maid, so Java-nese and Bahasa Indonesia is no problem. Bahasa Malaysia and English, of course.
I can speak conversational Spanish, which I learned through watching telenovelas. I was crazy for telenovelas when I was young.
When I used to volunteer at SPCA, a lot of international kids came there and some were Spanish students, so I used to talk to them and I brushed up on my Spanish.
I noticed that I can pick up languages very fast.
5. Any special roles you want to take on in the future?
I want to play a superhero, and I want to play a visually impaired and hearing impaired person.
I am fascinated by a blind person, and someone who can’t hear. I have already done all the research on this subject. I am ready for either role.
As for the superhero role, I want to be the one who saves all the animals, of course. I got a costume in mind.
Obviously the big hair must be there. I don’t know what I’ll call myself, though.
Temuan Takdir is in cinemas nationwide now.