They made news when they pledged a quarter of their wealth to philanthropy, with plans to give back `750 crore over the next few years. The visionary brothers behind Zerodha, Nithin and Nikhil Kamath earned massive wealth through their innovative ventures, crossing an impressive $5.5 billion. With over 12 million plus clients, they soon became one of the largest brokerage firms in the country and their commendable journey from disrupting India’s brokerage market to creating a financial empire has been nothing short of inspiration. Today, they are one of the highest tax payers in the country and are invited by global world leaders, for their presence not just at prestigious international platforms, but also to wine and dine with them.
Their charismatic mother, Revathi Kamath has also been a force to reckon with. Her simple endearing charm draws us to her infectious smile as she opens up about everything during her son’s childhood days, no holds barred. An honest soul, she has been the nurturing force behind the boys, always keeping a low profile with a firm belief in education and holistic development. She believed in the power of building an analytical mind through chess and also in the power of fine arts and music, keeping a congenial atmosphere at home for everyone to thrive during their earlier days. She continues to do the same for her grandson Kiaan Kamath. Revathi is an embodiment of empathy and compassion, who always stood as a strong pillar for her family’s development and growth. In our Mother’s Day special feature, here’s more from the celebrity mother herself…

  1. What is your favourite memory of being a mother?
    My first son Nithin was born when I was only 20 years old and I was very happy to bring my son into this beautiful world. My mother helped me as she came over to stay with us. My mother used to cook and help a lot. Nithin was born soon after 9 months and 10 days of my wedding. We used to live in Shimoga in those days. Nithin was born in Usha Nursing Home and after seven years my younger son Nikhil was born in Shimoga too in the same hospital. I wanted that gap and infact I was happy with one son as I wanted to give him all my love and attention, but later when Nithin grew up and was about six he started telling us that he wanted a brother, so we decided to have another kid. Spending such a good time with my kids everyday will always be my favourite time. These memories with both of them, their naughtiness, the first day he kissed me when he was a few months, when they started walking and all their milestones will always be so special. I can never forget how Nithin used to sleep, putting his head in my hand on my lap. He used to look like such an anger. He also used to love playing with my hair and make knots. I had long hair in those days and he used to make knots in my hair and play with it, so I had to cut my hair. All these memories with both my boys are very special.
  2. What advice would you give to new moms?
    Mothers should have patience. They should have Sahana Shakti and they should keep their mind cool first only then they can take care of their family. They should also keep fit and keep health as their first priority, only then they can take care of their children and their husband. If they’re not fit then they will be a burden to others and cannot take care of anyone. They should do yoga and pranayama every single day. Taking care of physical and mental health is very important. If they get into depression, then it is going to be horrible not just for their children, but for themselves also. So, it is very important that they keep fit, healthy and active to take care of their next generation. They have to be generous and give time to their family. Having a positive nature towards life is very crucial. Children have to be every mother’s number one priority and later once time permits and they have done their duties towards their children, they can take care of other things. Atleast till their children reach the age of 16, it is our duty to help them gain confidence by being around for them. We need to guide them on what is right and wrong. We should not scold, beat them or lose our temper, no matter if they are dark or fair, fat or thin or weak in studies. We should never call them ugly or compare them with others. Every child has something good in them. We need to identify that and slowly help to build and help them grow with confidence. This way they will be positive and whatever crisis comes they can handle. Mothers are the foundation of every family and play a very important role in the upbringing of every child.
  3. How did becoming a mother change you?
    As soon as I became a mother, I knew my responsibilities have increased. From giving my child nutritious and healthy food to spending time with them, I loved doing it all. I also read a lot of books on psychology in those days. Whatever time I got I wanted to read why a child cries and how one should behave with them in certain circumstances. Nithin was not at all a tough child to handle. It was very easy with him and my mother helped me too and we loved those years when he was a cute baby. Nikhil was a fairly tough child. He was also very cute but wanted all my attention. He used to drink breast milk till the age of five. He used to go to his pre-school and come back home and still insist on having breast milk. Both my boys were very attached to me since their childhood. Nithin never used to leave me and I also never left him anywhere. I took him everywhere with me. If I had to go to the washroom also, he would come behind and wait outside the door for me. I didn’t keep any maids or helpers to take care of them when they were small. My husband was busy with his office work. He used to work in a bank. I gave them my full time every day. They brought so much joy and love in my life. I never used to indulge in outside activities like how most moms do. I didn’t have many friends either to hang out with and it was good because I did not want to leave my children and go anywhere. They were my world. When they started going to school, I had some time in the mornings at home which I used to teach Veena to the neighbouring kids. I had learnt to play Veena and Carnatic music as a kid, so I would teach the kids Veena and Carnatic music when my children were away at school. After they returned from their school, I would be only with them and gave them my undivided attention.
  4. What is the most challenging part of being a mother?
    I managed fine when they were small. Once their studies started their schooling became a challenge. They never used to like studies. Whatever tricks I would use to make them study, they just did not seem to be interested in studies. Infact, they did not even want to go to school. After coming from school they would I would check their bags and they would bring back all the food I would pack in the morning in their lunch boxes. When I would tell them to finish their food, they would just give the food to their friends. They both became very naughty and never ate their food properly. Both Nithin and Nikhil were not very good at studies. I used to get scolding from their teachers every time there was a meeting. I made so much effort to make them study but their teachers used to tell me I was not taking care of my children. It was a big challenge and I didn’t know what to do. We had put both our children in the same school – Oxford School in JP Nagar, Bangalore. They had CBSE syllabus and there were not too many children in their CBSE class. I think there were hardly 25 or 30 children. Nikhil’s class was on the ground floor and Nithin’s class was on the 4th floor. If their teacher would turn and not pay attention, one of the brother’s would run to go to the other brother’s class. The teachers would tell me to take my child out of the school and put them in some other school, as they would disturb the other children in the class. It was very tough for me in those days. I only know how I managed 15 years of Nithin’s schooling and other seven years of Nikhil’s schooling. Almost two decades went by taking care of them during their school days.
  5. Who was more strict with the children – you or your husband?
    My husband did not have much time as he was working full time with a bank. He would go in the morning and come back in the evening. I was the main connection with my kids all day. Sometimes on Sundays we would go out for a meal or to visit some family friends. Most of the time I was the only one at home. Those days will always be memorable.
  6. What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?
    Now that the boys have grown up and have become so successful I have forgotten all the tough times we had earlier. Infact, they are a blessing. They take care of me so well. They still take out time to spend with me and we discuss everything with each other. They have made a big name for themselves in the industry and I’m so proud of them. Everytime I step out now, I get so much respect wherever I go. They are also contributing to the nation by being one of the highest tax payers in Karnataka. They meet national leaders all across the world. They do so many charity drives and support so many good causes. My husband passed away recently. It wasn’t easy for me and I felt very sad and depressed after that. But my sons gave me so much love and support. I’m so happy that we have all overcome the crisis. Most mothers face all these things when their children are growing up so it’s not anything great what I did for them. I was just doing my motherly duties. Most children are naughty, so it is all fine. After all they are children. Some will be average, some naughty and some very intelligent. My son’s used to be in the naughty category and see how they have turned out to be. They have everything today and yet they have not forgotten their values. Mothers should always have faith in their children. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your children become successful and doing so well.
  7. How do you balance being a mother and pursuing your own interests?
    I was from a simple Brahmin family. When I married a bank employee, we were not a very outgoing family. We did not have other forms of entertainment like you have in today’s times. My father used to teach music and my mother would cook delicious food. I have very sweet memories of my childhood. Our going out involved visits to temples or relatives. So having grown in that environment, I also developed the same attitude. I never craved to go out for lunches, dinners, kitty parties or time pass things like some people do. I was content at home with my music, my kids and home and life was so beautiful. I never felt I was missing something. After I had my children I knew this is my life and I had to take care of them. We would go out to eat food at a restaurant as a family very rarely. I never went out alone on my own. I was very happy with my life and everything God had given me. My main priority was my children. It’s not only me most of the ladies in those days never thought of themselves or their own pampering. Most of them in those days were totally into taking care of the house and their children. After my kids grew up, I started my flower business and then later I developed a passion for landscaping. But this was only after my children went to college. Following my love for nature and landscaping I am now into environment education. Life is completely different now. We have a lot of staff at home that takes care of our cooking, cleaning and other things at home, with a full time driver and caretaker. Those times were very different. Now when I have time for myself, I go out for lake restoration and rejuvenation and also do a lot of tree plantation and rural education drives. I love to work for the society around and do my best to give back to the world. Most of my time also goes in playing Veena and performing at classical concerts. I practice Veena three hours every day. It is almost like meditation for me and I love it. I sponsor music shows, help music organisers and also conduct events. In a year I sponsor atleast 10 big music programs. I advise people a lot and women especially on how to take care of their children and their health. I advise everyone to do yoga and pranayama as it helps to keep our mind calm and quiet and is very much needed in today’s world.
  8. What is the most important lesson you have learned from being a mother?
    Women go through a lot in their lives. During menopause they have a lot of ups and downs. Their health is not at its peak at this time. They start feeling depressed and for some it becomes very tough. That is a time when they have to take extra care of their health. I have learnt that health is very important and every mother should take care of her health.
  9. What is your favourite part about being a grandmother?
    My grandson Kiaan is the most enjoyable factor in my life. I love being a grandmother. It’s a blessing. When our children are young, we don’t have time to enjoy so much with them as we also have a lot of work taking care of them, feeding them, their studies and the house work. But now when we are grandmoms, we can concentrate on our grandkids as all the other house work and cooking etc. is being taken care of already. One advantage is that we all stay together, so Kiaan, my grandson is very attached to me. He plays mrudanga alongwith my Veena. We play a lot of games together. We also play old fun games like kho kho. We sometimes call all our security guards, maids, cooks and home staff to join us in our games. We play dumb charades, tomato potato and also football with Kiaan. He loves football. Since I can’t play much of football, I become referee. He wants me to be a referee when he’s playing. Infact, today morning also he called me saying, “Ajji come let’s play.” I thank my children that they are stay in Bangalore and haven’t gone abroad like some other kids. They are the best company I could ever ask for. Daughter-in-laws are sometimes different and don’t want to stay with their mother-in-laws. But Seema, (Nithin Kamath’s wife), my daughter-in-law is like my daughter and is not like that at all. She likes to stay together and is a very family oriented person. We all have a very good bonding and we are a very close knit family.
  10. How do you handle being a celebrity mom of two very successful sons? What is the bond you share with them?
    People call me as Zerodha mother. All my three children – my daughter-in-law is like my daughter only love me so much. What more could I want in my life. I feel so blessed as all the employees of Zerodha are like my children. We have a very strong bond. I share everything with them. I never hide any of my feelings from them. I share all my joys, my sorrows, who I meet and who said what, literally every single thing with them. They were laughing recently when I told them I am modelling for a designer. I tell them about everyone I meet everyday and they know everything and who all I meet and talk to. My children are like my friends. I also know about all their friends. Even with Seema it is all so special. We feel bad as we lost my husband and they lost their father, but we have to maintain a good happy environment at home, so I always try to be happy and positive. Till the time my husband was alive, he was given the best medical facilities by his sons.
  11. Would you like to recall one of your most favourite special moments with each of them – could be a holiday, trip, dining together or anything special at home?
    When my husband was there we would go on a family trip twice every year – we have visited Maldives and many other places together as a family and loved it. All of them have been such memorable holidays. We don’t eat together every day as they like to eat non vegetarian and I eat only vegetarian food, so we eat separately. But not always. There are times when we eat together. We stay together and once in a while we go out for dinner together. From their childhood days, kids liked non vegetarian and sometimes my husband used to cook for them, as I don’t cook non vegetarian food. In a way it’s good as when they travel abroad, it’s easy to manage. We were not cooking non vegetarian much at home in those days, but sometimes my husband used to make some dishes for them as they liked it.
  12. What are your passions and interests? How did you get interested in music and landscaping?
    I learnt music and Veena from my father N Krishnamurthy. I grew up in a very musical family. My father gave a lot of importance to music and my bua also loved music. That’s how I developed a keen interest too. When I got exposed to rural education seeing the situation of rural education in India, I was desperate on how I could do my bit towards the cause. Even the government is not doing much in that field as there is so much poverty. After 4th standard most of the children are going away from education as they start working to sustain a livelihood. Once they get educated it will help them in their career. Labour class continues to stay like labour only, as they have to fend for their families. We have to think how to bring a change. I want to do a lot but, how can I go to every school? It is the government’s responsibility. Corporates have to seriously involve themselves and also bring about digitalisation in rural schools. Some corporates are doing their bit, but it is not enough. They have to go into the grassroots levels and work on the cause. For one child’s education the cost is only 600 Rs. So if every human being starts adopting one child then we can work towards it. Only education can change their status and bring them out of poverty. I want to help and start to donate and start this drive. It is called ‘Educate a rural child’. If you support a child upto 10th standard you have to spend only 60,000. Vidya dhara is the ultimate help we can give them. Let us start with one school and continue to do this in many schools with any NGOs in between. After 10th if they are meritorious, they will also get scholarships.

    I also recently launched chess and I want to bring chess into rural schools. It has already reached many places in Karnataka.

    I also launched Carnatic music in rural schools and classes have also started. They don’t know how to sing proper prayers. We have to teach them what is shruti and what is rhythm and pitch. Laya is father and shruti is mother. We have tied up with Vice president of KCMC for online music classes for all. I have given the schools I’m tying up with internet facilities and computers. We got 40 computers for Dasarahhali School. I’m also an advisor for Ananya an NGO. Mahalakshmi Parthasarthy is doing a lot for the environment. We have also done work for Somanahali Lake, besides many other lakes. If rain comes the empty lakes will get filled. There was a leakage in the bund which we filled in one of the water bodies, which can now support 30 villages. I’m targetting Suvarnamukhi canal belt that reaches Cauvery and starts from Bannerghatta forest and reaches Cauvery through so many villages. If anyone is interested in environment upliftment, they can contact me for advice and I can consult on how to do result-oriented work. I’m taking up one more lake now. We will continue to do our work for the society, slowly yet steadily.