I studied tabla for a short time. Zakir is definitely the man. I've seen him perform as well. Fairly amazing. Unfortunately it was with the Mickey Hart group, which I am not a big fan of. Its kind of a whack-fest, but between Giovanni and Zakir, you get a lot of.... notes...
Anyway, I'm sure since you live in India, you are familiar with Bhangara music on Dhol or dholaki, and such. I've become a lot more interested in the dhol as opposed to tabla simply because of its power and ability to fit into contemporary music a little easier (volume wise as well) What do you think about Bhangara? It doesn't seem quite as surgically precise as tabla, but then again, I might be missing something.