Some of the earliest cartoons i remember were dubbed by Titus Thotawatte. They included Pissu Poosa (Top cat), Walas Mama (The Beary Family), Dostara Hondahitha (Dr. Doo Little) and Haa Haa Hari Haawa (Bugs Bunny). These were freakin A cause in the early nineties regular kids only had access to lame local sing along shows and Sesame Street, and even Sesame Street gets a little square from time to time.
TV was different then. Things like GI Joe, Ninja Turtles and Speed Racer came along somewhere in 94 – 95 when MTV started broadcasting. You only had two channels before that, Rupavahini and ITN. Looking back, most of the content on these channels should have been enough to put even an entertainment starved kid to sleep, but we definitely got by. Shows like Knight Rider, That’s Incredible and Robin Hood were blockbusters. These weren’t dubbed, thank God. there was also a Japanese show called Oshin which was dubbed, i never quite got the hang of that though.
In my experience, a lot of dubbing sucks, but some dubbing is better than the original. The cartoons i mentioned above are just as good, if not better than the original. Definitely better if you’re a kid unaccustomed to the English language and aspects foreign culture. TT’s productions were completely localized down to the very last detail. From names, customs to Music (the theme to Dr. Honda Hitha is a baila hit) . More importantly he was funny, extremely so. Not in the tired slapstick way you find in most Sinhala movies but in an understated, sarcastic genuinely witty way that hits you deep inside so that you can laugh at it even when you’re twenty six. His work also sent strong positive moral vibes, a good thing.
The work of TT was probably essential in shaping young minds which would otherwise have been forced to feed on the intellectual equivalents of Justin Bieber. Things were a little bleak back then, or seem so now. The JVP had just been crushed under a wave of violence and the EELAM war was accelerating. I guess the country couldn’t spare a lot of attention for us kids. So a lot of people from my generation remember TT’s work with fondness. He passed away yesterday. And Pissu Poosa makes me think of a more lovable version of Mervyn Silva, but that’s probably a stretch.
For a full list of Titus songs see here.