Disney's live-action Aladdin movie is set to bring many of our favorite animated characters to life. However, one of the sidekick animals from the original film will not appear, though there's a specific reason for that. It's been confirmed that Jasmine's pet tiger Rajah will not appear in the live-action version of Aladdin. Naomi Scott, who will portray Jasmine in the new movie says that Rajah was removed in order to focus on Jasmine's relationship with a new character, her handmaid Dalia, because the film needed more women and wanted to show how Jasmine relates to another woman, something the animated film never does. According to Scott...
I never realized it, but in the animation, Jasmine is really the only female character --- isn't that crazy?... So we wanted people to watch the movie and see Jasmine's relationship with another woman, and be like, 'Ah, that's what I'm like with my girlfriend,' or 'We would so do that if I was in that position.' That's something that's missing from the animation.
It is absolutely crazy but it's true that Jasmine is the only female character of any note in Aladdin. There are women with lines in the "One Jump Ahead" song, but they are never given names and we never see them again. Early versions of the story gave Aladdin a mother, but she was eventually dropped. A modern version of Aladdin absolutely needs more women and by putting the other female character alongside Jasmine, we can see her in an environment the animated film never showed. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, this will have the new character essentially replace Jasmine's pet tiger Rajah, but as that relationship wasn't vital to the film, we're not really losing anything.
The new character in question is Jasmine handmaiden Dalia, played by Saturday Night Live's Nasim Pedrad. While that puts Jasmine in a place of superiority, the relationship apparently won't be anything like that, as Naomi Scott says Dalia and Jasmine have been best friends for their entire lives.
The Dalia character is so important to this movie because she's the only other female character. She may be the handmaiden but they're best friends; they're so close because they've grown up together.
So it won't simply be two women together, but two women who know each other better than anybody else knows them. This should give us much more insight into Jasmine as a character than simply watching her have one-sided conversations with her pet.
It's been unclear what the live-action Aladdin was planning to do with the animal characters that were part of the original film. Based on the fact that Nasim Pedrad's Dalia is essentially taking the place of Rajah, it now puts the casting of Numan Acar as Jafar's new henchman Hakim in a different light. There's a good chance Hakim is actually taking the place of Jafar's parrot Iago. That only leaves Aladdin's monkey Apu as an open question. There has been no casting announced for a human friend of Aladdin's, but there also hasn't been an announcement that Apu will appear. If the other animals are gone, Apu would look a little out of place on his own.
The Aladdin live-action remake is set for release in May of 2019, taking over the spot vacated by the delayed Star Wars: Episode IX.