In the first draft of Disney’s Aladdin, our favorite street rat had three friends: Omar, Babkak, and Kassim. They were good pals and blood brothers, living the Arabian dream (i.e., to be lazy, play like crazy).
Well… they were replaced by a monkey.
I heard about these guys from a college dormmate. We were all avid Disney animation fans (as college kids in the 1990’s were wont to do, especially when you plan to spend a whole night coding in FORTRAN), and he had a special edition CD that included songs that were never in the movie. “Proud of Your Boy,” for example, which was originally sung to Aladdin’s mom… who, in the final version, was deceased. Hey, that lady was just going to throw out the lamp when some sketchy dude started collecting old lamps for new! Aladdin doesn’t need that stress!
They did reuse her design for a woman seen chiding Aladdin in the “One Jump Ahead” scene, though.
And then there were the songs “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim”, “How Quick They Forget”, and “High Adventure”. These were sung by our three adorable thieves. This CD introduced me to the idea that there was an alternate version of Aladdin that once existed only in the minds of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Would it have been better? Or would the lack of Abu have severely cut down some adorable animal antics? Would including three fellow grifters just have made the story more confusing?
Anyway, the songs were cut and Omar, Babkak, and Kassim would be forgotten and lost to the dusty annals of Disney lore.
That is… until the Broadway version of Aladdin came out. The monkey was shelved, and the four-strong permanent team was back with a vengeance. Grab your horse and grab your gear, because high adventure is in the air!
Don’t hold your breath on the status of Aladdin’s mom, though. Still kinda dead. Unless Disney decides to do an Aladdin sequel and call it Aladdin and the Queen of Thieves.